(This story deals with domestic squabbles - words are harsh, violent, and threatening.)
The depression is cloying. Every fiber of my being aches. I wish it were last year or even the year before. Everything was better back then.
Or was it?
2002 was not a glorious year. We lost everything when my hubby lost his job. The house, the furniture, and everything else. I kept telling myself that as long as we kept the family together, then none of the rest mattered.
But the children grew up. She graduated in 2003 and left for the military. He graduated in 2005 and couldn’t wait to leave the house. He packed his things and moved just two weeks after receiving his diploma.
So, we’d been empty nesters for almost ten years when my husband got itchy feet. A flight attendant on one of his business trips caught his eye. I’m not entirely sure how far the dalliance went, but no matter, my trust lies in tatters
Trust doesn’t rebuild itself quickly. And though I warned him as another ‘2’ year approached, he made a huge mistake this year—2022.
A strange charge showed up on our bank statement. I had to ask—“What was this for?” His red face and stutter made my stomach cramp.
“Um… ugh, well, I checked on something.”
“Well, you know how we have ‘that problem’ in the bedroom?”
“You mean your inability to perform?”
“Ouch—yeah, that problem. I saw if something else would work. I saw a sign for a ‘Gentlemen’s’ Club. I went in for an experiment.”
“What kind of experiment?”
“I wanted to see if I could get turned on by one of those girls.”
My silence was deafening even to me. I couldn’t imagine what the look on my face must have looked like to him. What did a mask of anger look like? Did he feel threatened or scared?
Stomach churning, acrid ooze bubbling up into my mouth, I struggled to say something.
“I. Can’t. Believe. You could be SO STUPID!”
My volume increased with every word. My heart beat harder with each utterance. Black dots danced in my field of vision.
Would I pass out in the middle of my rant?
I struggled to calm down—even if it was only enough to continue yelling.
“How could you? Things were going so well, and now you’ve ruined them. You knew that if you did ANYTHING wrong, we might not get through it. Haven’t you done enough damage to this marriage? Haven’t you done enough to this family?”
I took a breath before I continued, but before he could utter a single word. “Do you have any idea how fragile things were and are? Just how stupid are you?”
He was visibly cringing. The words stung and made him feel small. I watched him try to find a way to defend himself. But the past was weighing on him. His shoulders hunched like an old man. He didn’t look like the six-foot man I was married to. Instead, he looked like someone tiny—very insignificant. He looked like someone I loathed.
“You’re sorry? That’s all you can say for yourself. You put us back twenty years with this nonsense. Twenty years!”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that you got caught stealing from your job twenty years ago. And then, while you were in jail for THAT offense, I found out that you’d molested our daughter about six years before that.
“I almost lost my mind. I hurt so bad that I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t focus on anything. Getting through each day was a struggle. And ten years later, when I felt like I could breathe, you did your little fling with the whore on the airline, and now ten years later—THIS!”
“Why do you have to bring the past into this? Can’t we deal with NOW?”
“The past keeps repeating itself. It’s like you have learned nothing. You refuse to see what you’ve done to me, our family, our marriage.
“You realize that you are very lucky I’m even here in this room with you. By all accounts, I should be gone. I should have either divorced you or killed myself. Do you know what it’s like for me? Do you understand how hurt I am?
“I hope it was worth it. I hope the lap dances did their work—because you don’t have to worry about getting it up with me—I’m done.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means I’m leaving. I’m packing my bags, taking the dogs, and going somewhere else to live. You will no longer have me to kick around.”
His tears were pathetic. They only stoked the fires of my anger.
“You can’t leave. I know I messed up, but we can get through it. We can work it out. We always do.”
“Yes, you’ve messed up—AGAIN. No, we can’t work this out. I cannot continue to be treated like this. I have way too much respect for myself and my life. Color me gone."
"Where will you go?"
“I don’t think you have to worry about that. I just won’t be here anymore. You are on your own. You won’t have me to run the house, pay the bills, and organize your life. Good luck with all that—you have had to do none of those things for almost forty years.”
“I don’t even know where to start.”
“Damn right, you don’t. And since I’m taking my computer, you won’t even have a computer with memorized transactions. But I did make you a Desk Manual—and you can get into your bank accounts and stuff from there.”
“Wait, a minute. You’re really serious? I’m going to have to take care of all this stuff? You’re not going to ease me into this?”
I laughed. But it was a joyless sound. Instead, it was a grunt of sadness. I realized he couldn’t live without me and my help. And he couldn’t live with me as his playmate. I was simply someone who managed things. I shared his bed, but I didn’t own any part of his heart.
“It’s time you faced your past mistakes. I’ve loved you for a long time, but I’m no longer in love with you. And I think you were never in love with me. If you had been, none of this would’ve happened.
“I’m going to pack my things.”
I took one last glance at the man who’d been a part of my life for so long. He was a pathetic figure. I could see he was deep in thought. I wondered if he were contemplating the future OR facing his past.