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Drifting

It starts with the silent dinners. How have I recreated my whole childhood home again? Walking on eggshells. Don’t speak, don’t trigger the beast, just drift, step aside.

Chink.

Happily-ever-after dies when his suffering takes center stage. There is no room in my home for me. I am not enough or I am too much. HE TAKES EVERYTHING OVER. There is no room for my anguish and sadness. There is no place to hide my face. There is no safe place. He has taken them all.

Blast.

Gave up a dear friend, she was toxic to our relationship, but I loved her like WHOA.  When my mother passed away in 2007…Michele would have known how to be present. She would have known what to say and when to be silent. She would have reminded me of things I had said. She would be encouraging. But I couldn’t reach out to her. When all doors where closed and all paths were blocked… I turned to Jesus… the first place I should have gone.

Thwack.

Work becomes more important. I am valued here. I am celebrated for my vision, my word, my inappropriate humor. I am secretly trying to think of ways to work overtime and contribute more to after hours events.

Zap.

I explain my desires, my needs. I dive deep, despite the risk, and ask for him to play the role of Daddy and let me be the little girl who needs to be safe and protected. He shames me. He has starved me out. I fall deep into self loathing and hatred. Trust has been severed. Heart has turned stone. I have shut down any trust I ever had. I never speak of my sorrows or pain to him anymore.  Initially he’ll try to help…. But then…. In the next couple weeks, when we’re arguing, he uses it against me — ultimate betrayal.

Pow.

He sucks the air out of the room. He belittles me in front of others.

He is constantly nudging me and giving me looks to act appropriately.

I can’t be me…when he’s around. I celebrate with joy when he leaves the house.

I run around foolishly and make a huge mess.

BANG.

I confront him. Air out my grievances. He doesn’t remember any of it. I am in a puddle of hormonal rage and anxiety.  I AM NOT CRAZY! God speaks to me clearly and tells me to commit to doing a 40 day fast. During the fast, he shows me his favor. He shows me my strength. I emerge as a warrior. If I can fast for 40 days, I can fucking do anything. My faith is stronger than ever. Jesus will never fail me. I need to commit to only relying on him for all my needs. Mortal men are the most pitiful of creatures. Why was I so blind?

Zip.

He leaves me a note by my nightstand. It’s this long paragraph of lovely words I’ve heard before; Something about him recommitting to us, to me, and becoming the man he needs to be for me.

((( Pause for rolling of the eyes )))

The time and energy for him to write that letter, he could have just taken action. He is all talk. TALK TALK TALK TALK!

If he wants to be the man for me… then bring me coffee in bed, don’t let me worry about putting gas in my car or its maintenance needs. Remove money as a concern for me. Obtain employment that can carry the family and cover us with health insurance so I don’t have to … be the man of the house. Be the spiritual leader that we need. Be the captain of the ship. Be honest about who you are what you need. Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t be so chicken shit. Run interference for me so I can be the wife, mom, and Christian that our family and community craves.

((It’s not too much to ask.))

Smack.

Emergency room visits, doctors that are worthless, procedures and surgeries that do more harm for his crippling debilitating disease. Come to terms with the fact that I will his caretaker. Make plans for WHAT IFs. Keep accurate medical records. Organize it all. Learning to be knowledgeable about his health conditions. Understand his lack of memory is not his fault. Pain is all consuming. Find a support group. Learn to ask for help. Cry more. Learn to be ok with anger but try not to let it consume your soul. Ask Steve the hard questions. Write down his eulogy. Face the facts. Time is not on our side.

Whack.

He comes in this morning and interrupts my workout. I take my headphones off and he informs me that he can hear me laughing all the way on the other side of the house… it’s a 2800 sqft house. So what?  I can’t listen to my podcast and laugh in my house now? HE FUCKING TAKES EVERYTHING FROM ME!!!!!!!!

I asked him about having another baby. Nope. He took that away from me too.

I mentioned Viagra and invoked world war three!

Slam.

His only autonomy in our relationship is the ability to say no. No to my advances. No to all my solutions.

It’s the only real strength and control he has. He builds constant brick walls in conversation.

… his health issues are constant and corrosive.

The constant sacrifice enables bitterness.

There is no laughter, outlet. I can’t mock him, our situation, so there’s the alcohol.

Punch.

When he looks down on me and berates my music choices because there is swearing… that does not make me want to be better or do better. It just makes me feel as if I’m in a play and I have no idea what my lines are, what role I’m supposed to be play.. He just makes me feel like a total fuck up.

Wham.

A rift, a fault line separates us. We are on divergent paths.  I don’t know where to go from here. I have read all the books, signed all the contracts, invoked all the spells, prayed and fasted, repented for my wicked ways only to cover my face and cry, “ABSALOM, ABSALOM!”

TKO!

Ask The Band: Leaving My Lover

They say it takes 21 days to change a behavior – to let go of a habit.

I’m hoping “they” are right. I am on Day Five – BRUTAL Day Five – of having zero contact with the man I was having an affair with – yes, Infidelity. I know it’s bad

I am married.

He is married – but divorcing – and “with” another woman.

He was my fuck-buddy. The sex, oh man, the sex, the sex was the kind of sex I didn’t even know I craved until it smacked me in the face. Then it became like oxygen – or, at least, crack.

More than the amazing sex, this man was someone I could talk, really talk to about the things I have no other place to share. Things that I didn’t know I really wanted to dialogue about. Dirty things, yes – yummy, dirty things. But also spiritual, political, intellectual things.

My husband simply isn’t that person for me. I won’t give you all the details. It really doesn’t matter and it’s not much different from a million other stories. For me, though, it is. This is my story.

Leaving my lover is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do; it hurts. But I know that it’s necessary to say goodbye. Goodbye to the crazy drama. Goodbye to the possibility of wrecking my marriage. Goodbye to the fear that my children would hate me if it all came crumbling down.

And goodbye to filling that hole – the one that craves passion, excitement, and a really good fuck – in my life.

I’m on Day Five.

Please tell me it gets easier.

Don’t Ask Anymore

We are enjoying a day off. It’s Easter weekend. Reflecting Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He is cutting up vegetables. He cuts himself and is bleeding everywhere.

He can’t even let Jesus Christ take center stage.

He needs all the damn attention!

Why does he think his needs are more important than mine?

Now, I need to help him feel more comfortable.

Constantly complying. I am not a part of the equation. I have been SPEAKING for years, repeating myself constantly. I don’t ask anymore. I don’t ask for things. I don’t ask for affection. I am living in limbo. Boundless. Floating.

I am invisible.

don't ask abuse marriage

I need to be released from this responsibility that I’ve been carrying for too long.

For the last eight years we’ve drifted apart, each of our roles were extremely different from the others.

I was primary care taker of the baby, he just worked to not be in pain. He was in and out of doctor’s offices, and in bed most of the time he was home.

He was cold to me. He couldn’t help it. I know.

To me, he had it easy: just relax, lay in bed, watch TV, take medicine, have another useless steroid injection.

Umm… when do I get the debilitating disease so I can sit on my ass all fucking day?  I feel trapped, imprisoned.

I had grand expectations that he would complete me, complete my life and it would be this grand ball with dances and tea parties. Our roles are still tragically different, neither supporting one another, neither of us need each other. We are in different places, both have different goals.

We are in the same room, breathe the same air but we’re worlds apart.

The lack of trust and respect – it’s killing us. I cannot trust that he’ll be there. That he’s ALL IN. We’ve been having some good months lately… but soon, that chronic pain will take him and paralyze him again.

That anxiety keeps me in the crazy.

And… so here’s the state of our union. I’ve become accustomed to not including him in my day. He’s had so many limitations, so many special needs. He’s never been able to engage, so I forget that he’s there sometimes.

Somewhere between the chronic pain, taking days off for doctor appointments, disappointments, missed opportunities, we disappeared. I stopped trying to make the structure we live in a home. He was too busy or too sick to care. He didn’t want me. I got used to that.

I became hard, and cold. I worked so hard to leave my father’s house only to end up exactly where I started. I try. He tries. We both feel the unbecoming of us though. It was a slow fade to black.

I’ve veered on a divergent path and, if I’m being honest, I don’t care if he follows or goes in the opposite direction.

How the fuck did I get here?!

I didn’t say no when I was victimized as a child. It happened on more than one occasion. He made me feel special and important.

Years later, I realized I was just his prey among many.

My brain started to split. There was the good me and the bad me.

Then I started cutting to feel something. ANYTHING. Then I would only feel anger, resentment, bitterness, shame.

Then I would drink myself to oblivion to be numb again.

And round and round we go….

I watched my father beat up my mother countless times. I was powerless. The only thing I could do was disconnect. Detach from the situation, go off in my imaginary world.

These days, the only real way I can relate to men is if they are anonymous, objectified, and made common.

Maybe if (they or) I become more anonymous, objectified, common, I don’t have to engage. I can pay to play. I can pay to heal in a way. I can acquit myself of the emotional debt.

I would have room for… selfishness.

Ask The Band: Is Donor Insemination The Right Thing To Do?

Can I do it alone?

I have a son. He’ll be four in a few weeks – a sweet, smart, active little boy with a big heart. However, his father and I split up over a year ago, largely because I wanted more kids. While we had agreed upon it previously, he later decided that one was enough. He loves our son, of that I have no doubt, but he refused to have another child.

I’d had enough.

The breakup was nasty but I agreed to shared custody. Leaving was the hardest thing I have ever done – not leaving him, but sleeping under a different roof than my son. However, our custody arrangement is such that I see my son pretty much every day, and most nights. At least it’s bearable.

My son keeps asking me to bring home a baby for him (which is just so darn cute), but I wish it were that simple. I want another child. My biological clock is ticking louder every day. In a few months I turn 40. Somehow that number has always seemed the age I should be finished having kids.

For the past nine months (irony, anyone?), I’ve been actively searching for Mr. Right. Someone intelligent, attractive, single, honest, interesting, gentle, kind and creative, who likes kids and wants to settle down – and who hasn’t had a vasectomy. There isn’t anyone like that in my regular life so I’ve tried four different internet dating sites. So far I’ve met 18 local men and, well, short version: no luck.

So I have a choice.

I can take the risk and wait, or I can cut out the middleman (pun intended) and just do it myself with the help of a local fertility clinic.

I can afford the procedures and they’ve accepted me as a client. I’m lucky to have a job that will pay me almost my full salary for a full year of maternity leave, and a great health plan that covers most costs. I make enough money to be able to support another child. What more do I need, right? Case closed! Decision made! Sign me up and show me the stirrups!

Then the doubts set in.

If I get pregnant this fall, my son would be five by the time the baby was born. Is it fair to him? Will I have the energy to do all the things he needs me to do for him? Will I be able to get him to school on time – help him with his homework? Will he resent sharing his bedroom? Will he resent sharing me? Will his father think that he can steal our son away from me because I have another child? I wouldn’t put it past him.

Is it fair to deprive a child from knowing his father? Will the baby wonder? Will this baby resent that my firstborn son gets to spend time with his father but he or she can’t?

I remember those first months (and first years) of having a baby. It’s exhausting. Not enough sleep, constantly on call, never a moment of privacy – and that’s what it was like when the father was there to help out.

What happens if I’m on my own? No one is going to make me a sandwich. No one is going to vacuum for me or unload the dishwasher. No one will change a diaper once in a while to give me a break. No will bounce a teething infant for an hour or two in the middle of the night so I can sleep. No one will pick up groceries from time to time.

I will have no one to rely on but myself.

I don’t have family around, and all of my friends are leaving town one by one – it’s their careers, I always knew they’d be going sometime. Could I hire a doula for the first few months? A nanny? How much would that cost? Can I afford it? How do I find one? Would she expect to live here in my tiny house? Where would I put her?

What would it really mean to have a child on my own? Can I do it alone? The only single moms I know had a hell of a time, and they had friends and family around to help. What if I have twins? How the hell would I handle that on my own? My mother was a twin.

Am I strong enough to handle it?

Donor insemination.

It’s the right thing to do.

Right? Tell me I’m right.

Please.

Dose of Happy: The View From Up Here

Recently, Sunshine and I went to the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex to visit a friend of ours. Normally, when we go visit our friend, we stay at our friend’s house. This time, when we texted our friend that we were getting near, he texted back an address and told us to meet him there. We got there, and it was a hotel. See, our friend’s house was on the market, staged and ready for an open house early the next morning and he didn’t want us to have to feel rushed to leave, so he put us up in a hotel.

Now, our friend is one of those “go big or go home” kind of people. Well, maybe “live life out loud” or “live life at high speed” or something would be more like it, but whatever–the point is, our friend believes in living life to the fullest. And because he knows that we live in a tiny house on wheels, he couldn’t just get us a hotel room. He had to go and get us a suite, with a living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom that on its own was bigger than our whole living room, kitchen and dining area combined. The living room and bedroom each had one entire wall made up of windows overlooking the city to the south, and to a city girl like me, the view was stunning.

Sunshine, our dog Mollie, and our friend took off to do whatever it is they do when they hang out–probably fossil hunting or some other grand adventure. I went shopping, as my ass has grown too big for my pants or my pants have shrunken too small for my backside, and there are just so many good stores in the DFW metroplex.

I got done shopping (in a surprisingly short amount of time) and returned to the hotel. After taking my purchases out of their bags and packing them in my luggage, I surveyed the living room area of our suite. There was this cute little armchair right in front of the window, but it was facing the wrong way, so I turned it around and plopped my ass down facing that wall of windows, and I watched the world go by from my perch on the eighth floor of this hotel.

There has always been something so soothing to me about watching the world from high up in a building in the middle of a large city. Maybe it’s because I can watch the city go by without being affected by the hustle and bustle and mad rush and overwhelming NOISE of it all. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a large city and somehow wound up in a swamp and miss the hell out of city life. Maybe it’s a little of both with some unknown factors thrown in for good measure.

Whatever the reason, I sat there in that room and watched the world go by out that window and listened to the sound of the air whooshing through the vents of the air-conditioning system and the faint sound of the water in the fountain eight stories below me splashing on the concrete.

I sat there in that silence and watched the world go by, and felt such a deep peace.

That may not sound like much out of the ordinary to some of you, but to an addict like me, to sit alone and just watch the world out a window and enjoy the silence–well, that’s a miracle.

There were many years when I couldn’t be alone. There were many years when I couldn’t stand silence. There were many years when I always had somewhere to go and something to do and somebody to be.

I was able to sit there in that chair and watch the world go by and be content with just sitting still. I was happy to know that, unlike all of those people in all of those cars rushing by below me–I had nowhere to be, no pressures, no deadlines, no expectations to meet. I had only to sit and reflect in the silence.

I was able to sit there in the silence, with nothing to distract me from myself, and not want to crawl out of my skin.

After my addiction, failed marriages, prison time, and all of the other horrors that go along with addiction, it’s a miracle it is for me to be able to sit in silence and watch the world go by. It’s a miracle for me to sit high up in a hotel and watch humanity pass by without worrying that life is passing me by.

So my dose of happy this Monday is being able to enjoy the silence, to be comfortable in my own skin. I hope each and every one of you can find a few moments this week to enjoy some silence, and just be.

The Choice

I was in kindergarten and kissed a pudgy little boy beside me on the playground. My little friends pointed and laughed. I wanted to die. I did not, because I made a choice.

I was in the fifth grade and my classmates noticed I had boobs. My friends pointed and laughed. I wanted to die. I did not, because I made a choice.

I was in high school and suffered through the angst of a breakup. His friends pointed and laughed. I wanted to die. I did not, because I made a choice.

I had a huge fight with my parents and disappointed them. I wanted to die. I did not, because I made a choice.
The choice? Tomorrow would be a better day if I lived.

My husband of twelve years stuck a gun in his mouth and made a different choice. He left behind three daughters under five years of age. He died because, to him, there was no other choice.

We were finally ending a long divorce – a divorce spawned from years of domestic abuse due to his mental illness. For almost 12 years – 365 days and nights of tears, I woke up and thought tomorrow would be a better day if I lived.

Often times, I felt it was his “grace” that allowed me to live. Every now and then, in the grips of pain from a fist or a kick, I wanted to die. Still, I always made a choice to live.

For weeks after he left this earth, I asked, “Why?”

I needed an explanation – a resolution – for his choice.

Most of us have had those moments in which we think we don’t want to live through the day. We think for a split-second, “What would it matter if I was gone?”

We think we don’t matter. We wonder if we’d be missed. I wish that, before he ended his life, I could’ve answered these questions for him.

Since I cannot, I will do it here:

“What would it matter if I was gone?”

Regardless of our marital state, you helped me create three daughters.

Before the first one goes to school, I will have to explain that her father is dead. Before she learns to write her name, she will understand what a grave is.

The two youngest daughters will not have a decent memory of their father to carry through their adult lives. They will look back and only know your face because there is a picture. They will only know stories – not through their own recollection – but because I will fill in the blanks.

They will never be able to take their father to a “Daddy/Daughter” dance. They will not have the man who helped give them life give them away on their wedding days. Father’s Day will always leave their hearts heavy. They will, one day, know that you didn’t consider living for them, loving them, that they were not enough for you.

“Would I be missed?”

A few days after your death, I had to sit down on the bed and explain to the children that their father would never come back. Ever. The day has not come yet that they haven’t cried for you in some fashion. The oldest has a picture of you in her room on her nightstand. She talks to you when she has something important to say. She tells you about her birthday, her missing tooth, her new puppy, and when Mommy has made her mad. When she is frightened, she screams for you to help her, because Daddies are big and strong.

The man who didn’t feel like he had a choice went into a rage that day. He broke things, he screamed, and he broke down. He walked into the room filled with all the children’s things and did not see any of them. All he saw was that he didn’t have another choice, that he didn’t matter, that he wouldn’t be missed.

In front of a rack of his children’s clothes, ranging from size 18 months to 5T, standing before a toddler bed and dozens of smiling stuffed animals on the floor, he thought that the only thing that mattered was taking himself out of everyone’s life.

Ceasing to exist.

Becoming a memory and nothing more.

Later, I stood in a funeral home to pick out a casket for my husband. I wanted to die. I did not.

I made a choice to live. Sitting in the living room looking at the Christmas tree, stockings lined up bearing the children’s names and a dozen smiling stuffed animals on the floor, I see the only thing that matters: making memories and so much more.

Tomorrow will be a better day because I live.

I make that choice.