It was ten years ago this week that the shit hit the fan in my life.
Honestly, I wish I had kept a journal of what was going on. There is so much that has faded away from the ravages of time, or from my eternal sunshining it. But just as much has been seared permanently in my brain. I’m going to have to actually do writer work to get some of this out, interview friends about what was going on. And this scares me because I know that there is much I don’t want to face, moments I had blissfully forgotten. And I also know my friends wouldn’t mind doing a post-mortem. It will look like that warehouse jail cell after Hannibal Lecter tricks those policemen.
But ten years ago, it was Christmas lights and presents and having my entire world turned upside down. Were there signs? That he was an asshat, yes, always. But about what was to come? I can honestly say that, had I not already been lying down, I would have had my legs go out from under me.
It was the week after Christmas. I had gone out to a girls gathering with some ladies I worked with. I went for a few hours to this woman’s house and had a good time, laughing, dreading the return to school after the break. I stayed a little longer than I meant to, but nothing extraordinary. When I got out to my car, I found a series of texts and a voicemail from my husband.
“You need to come home, I can’t get her to sleep, I’ve been trying for hours and she won’t go, you need to come home.” It was all rushed together and insistent and the subtext was that he was mad that I was still out. As if I wasn’t the person who normally dealt with this. R wasn’t really a fussy baby at all; quite the contrary, she was a GOOD BABY. Sweet. But she liked to be cuddled to sleep. So yeah, if you wanted to go do something else, sorry. But she also would fall asleep fast.
And when I got home, that’s exactly how I found her. Knocked out, lying next to him on our bed. I came into the room and climbed onto my side of the bed. He was lying there, illuminated only by the hallway light.
“Looks like you got it all taken care of,” I said as I started to snuggle my little family. I remember now, I was lying on my right side, looking at him.
“I need to tell you something. I’ve been……”
I honestly can’t remember how he phrased it. Did he say “sleeping with someone else?” Maybe it was “seeing someone else”. But there was no deft segue into it. Just a bomb, dropped from the relative height security of someone who has a bag packed on the floor on the floor, out of sight of the person whose landscape is about to be scorched and burned beyond recognition.
I lay there, numb.
“Let’s talk about this,” I finally responded.
“There’s nothing to talk about.” And in one swift motion, he was up, with a duffel bag in his hand. And then he was gone.
I lay there on the bed, not willing to leave my baby’s side. I heard the garage door open, the truck start up, the fading roar of its engine as he backed out, and then the garage doors closed again. I heard the familiar sound of him pulling away and then a sound that I would get acquainted with: the sound of his silence.