Even seven years after he left me, I have come to realize that my ex-husband still takes up residence inside my head. In an attempt to clear him out of there, I’m going to start telling more of my stories. Maybe if I send my stories out into the world, they will get out of my brain.
He loved to pick fights with me. Easily, 75% of our fights were about food. Clearly, they were never REALLY about food, but that’s how he chose to express his anger with me.
There was an excuse for why food was such a hot point for him. For most of his childhood, he was raised by his grandmother. She didn’t have the financial means to support her children still living at home, as well as the grandchildren she was then responsible for. They were poor. Food was hard to come by. But she was also very frugal and knew how to make every last scrap of food last.
My family didn’t have a lot of money, but by comparison, we were definitely not poor. If a little bit of leftovers went to waste, it wasn’t the end of the world.
The day that some ground beef went to waste, he started a screaming match with me in the front yard. I’m sure the neighbors loved that!
But easily, the worst fight over food was Thanksgiving, 1999.
Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday, and I always went all out to make it special for my husband. I took charge of the entire meal – except for mashing the potatoes. He enjoyed doing that. We had had a lovely morning, we even took the dog for a long walk between basting times on the turkey. As I finished the cooking, he was downstairs, looking through family photos.
When the potatoes were done boiling, I called down to him that it was time to mash them. He said he would be right up, so I left the water in the pan for him to drain and set them aside.
I was busy. There were a lot of other things to do.
I didn’t notice that he didn’t come right back up.
When he finally did, the potatoes had gotten cold and a little slimy.
He was PISSED.
He screamed at me about how the potatoes were ruined and it was my fault and I should have drained them. I should have called him again when he didn’t come up. He stomped around the kitchen, swearing, yelling, and slamming pots and pans around.
He icily told me, “Thanks for ruining my favorite holiday,” and then he got in his truck and left.
I continued to cook as best I could through my tears. I cut up more potatoes and got them boiling. I finished the stuffing – just the way he liked it. I made the gravy. When the potatoes were done, I mashed them myself. They were lumpy, but at least they tasted good.
And then I waited.
He didn’t come home for about four hours.
I know now that when he was downstairs, he must have been talking quietly on the phone to his girlfriend, and she convinced him to have Thanksgiving with her instead. He picked a fight with me so he could justify leaving. If it hadn’t been the potatoes, it would have been something else.
When he got home, we ate in silence, and I held back tears.