It’s the first week of December. Crunch time. I just had, in one week, four, count ‘em, FOUR major birthdays, THREE of which required presents and cakes and special dinners and of course, PLANNING. And my parents were visiting and there was that holiday, Thanksgiving. All the while I’m barely holding my marriage together. And now the slipperly slide to Christmas.
AND my dh announces: he’s taking time off from work. Three weeks. Vacation.
What the hell is that?
We barely keep our asses together while he’s at work. Now he’s going to be home???
So a few days into dh’s “vacation” a friend of his offers to take him to Europe for three weeks right after Christmas. Dh says to me. “Of course I told him I can’t go. You’d divorce me.”
His. Exact. Words.
Are you k-k-k-k-kidding me????
“Go! Please! And not just so you can get out of my house but so you can come back a new man. Find yourself. Find your calling. Release your depression. Fuck a Roman. I don’t care. Just come back different!”
But he said he wanted to spend time with his family. With his children. With me.
So far on this vacation he had not spent a minute with me.
He spent his days on his own, doing God knows what.
About this time I got a wicked chest infection – shocking I know! While I did the kids and did Christmas with the worst illness I had in years, my dh did what? Went to the movies? Went for hikes? I really don’t know where he was or what he was doing. He would take off in the morning and come home for dinner without nary a word to me.
He wasn’t helping me.
He was disassociating I know that.
Cause the crazy thing is, if he was off watching movies and taking hikes, and not helping me, I could almost deal with that. What I couldn’t deal with was his doing all this while claiming the whole time that he wanted to be with me, connect with me...and again the whole time he’s keeping his whereabouts a secret. One day he told me he had to get the cars smogged and what not and he’d be gone all day. A few days later he let it slip that the cars only took about 30 minutes and he had actually gone to see Golden Compass?? He had been gone ALL DAY! And who doesn't MENTION to their wife that they went to the movies? I mean just for the simple fact that it makes interesting conversation?
That was the first two weeks of December.
Then the kid got off school too. Oh Joy to the World. Everyone home for Christmas.
I’m laughing to myself right now just remembering it. What sweet holy Christmas hell!
So I make myself some mommy time. Make a dinner date with a mama friend. Shout out M.M.! (and sorry, again…)
The night of the dinner, the dh gets mad that I made the date without ASKING HIM FIRST. Say what Mr. Vacation? And you guessed it.
He rages. So bad I can’t leave him with the kids.
I have to cancel on my friend and I’m furious. I say it again. We have to divorce. Dh says ok. We’re on the floor. Crying. But it’s done. It seems it’s almost an everyday occurrence this breakdown.
I spend literally the entire night crying on the bathroom floor. (Paging Elizabeth Gilbert!) I stumble through every repercussion. Every depressing future moment of my broken family. This is forever. It is tragic. It is real.
I wake up with boxer’s eyes. Have I damaged them forever? Will a plastic surgeon be able to put them back? I wonder, as I gently tug my lids out of my line of vision.
But…but…but…the next day, I can’t do it. We can’t do it. Molly makes us a beautiful drawing of our family. The word “FAMILY” written across the top. My dh and I look at each other. Tears pour down our faces. Molly says, I want you to stop crying. So we do. We spend the day as a family. For real. And yes, we re-commit ourselves…God it sound like a joke now but in the moment it was true. And it was possible. And I knew I would continue to breathe life into the moment until all possible avenues were completely blocked. My dh brought home an expensive bottle of champagne to toast our new marriage at a special dinner I was going to make the next day.
The next morning, December 23rd. It was time to visit Santa Claus at the mall. Oh, how many marriages I wonder have ended on the way to this mecca of stress? Anyway, that morning was bad. Having a hard time with my daughter and more realistically with myself. I just couldn’t get myself together. WHY WHY WHY I wonder? Maybe because I was resisting a little thingy called reality? Oh, retrospect. But I know I was just living moment to moment (not unlike what I’m doing now, gentle reader…)
So I was really struggling. Feeling frustrated and depressed and spent and not wanting to take it out on my little girl but somehow needing to get us dressed and presentable for St. Nick. She pouted in her room. I sat at the table drinking tea trying to find my center. How could I use more reflective language? Be a more patient parent? How could I be a better mom I wondered and I cried in my chamomile a little.
Enter dh stage left.
He sat next to me, ignored my tears…such an expert at that he is…and he launched into a diatribe on how we need to punish our daughter more. We (read I) never follow through, I never discipline. Our daughter needs more consequences to curb this behavior of hers.
Well, I just couldn’t hear this right now and I said as much.
The dh does not like not being heard.
So a big fight ensues on top of EVERYTHING ELSE. I lose it. Crawl in the closet (my big dark womb) and fall into the abyss. But a few minutes later I crawled out. Must go on. Must fight inertia and the need to smoke cigarettes and listen to Pink Floyd for next four hours.
Kids must see Santa.
The kids’ clothes are found and put on. Tears dried. Hugs shared. We had just re-committed the day before, right?
On the way out the door, sniffling back my last tears and self-respect, I lean in to give my handsome if troubled dh a kiss and he pulls away.
He PULLS AWAY.
Like, no, don’t kiss me. Like, recoils. Like, don’t touch me.
I lose it AGAIN. It’s all knee-jerk stuff now.
I have to retreat back into the house and fucking tear it down AGAIN.
Make the kids wait AGAIN.
It is not lost on me that this is bad. Not the life I want for me. For the kids. I’m a wreck.
But with love, sweat and tears and prayer I pull it together and actually get them in the car and to the mall. But my dh won’t be so easily dissuaded. He can’t speak to me or the kids at the mall. Won’t get in the Santa photo with us…oh, to have that picture now in Kodachrome…to be enjoyed for many a nostalgic Christmas. I’m laughing. I hope you are too! Stay with me!
At the mall, we get some mall food and the dh is GONE. At one point I ask him “What is wrong?”and he yells at me in front of the kids, God, the carousel worker, in front of everyone: “What the fuck do you think is wrong? We’re finished!”
A few minutes later, after my daughter doesn’t get the carousel horse she wanted to ride, she is running down the length of the mall yelling “FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!”
Is Christmas over yet?
So we get home and dh has one of his WORST RAGES EVER. In front of our children he calls me a “fucking liar who never loved him.”
I see you God.
I see Jesus.
He’s nodding. We’re nodding together. I understand. And what’s so confusing is that I made pot roast.
There’s pot roast in the crock pot.
It’s one of Dh’s favorite meals and I had put it in the crock pot that morning for us, for our special evening. Our special dinner.
Our marriage ended with pot roast in the crock pot. How can anything bad happen with pot roast in the crock pot?
I called my friends. Implored them to bear witness to my pain. They assured me, assuaged me. And I made my peace. I would cry no more. I would damage myself no more. I would put my kids at risk no more. I would put myself in harm’s way no more. I would lie to myself no more. No more. I hear you Jesus. No more.
Not even for that great bottle of champagne.
Not even for pot roast.
My dh disappeared till 2am the next morning.
The kids and I went to the bookstore and got hot chocolate. Drove around looking at Christmas lights. Came home and ate pot roast together. It was Christmas Eve Eve.
I love my kids.
I love you.