I Woke Up At The End
I was headed for a divorce about three months into my marriage, but like any focused person who lives in constant denial, I wasn’t ready to face it for another two years.
Seek professional help please
Oh husband of mine!
Hot dogs and farting
Monday night football, et al
They are killing me!
Go to your mother’s
Eat her food and bend her ear
Alone, I am free!
I wrote this happy haiku 15 months into our marriage. We kept our sketchy union alive through habitual fighting and abuse; while we were both good people, we were not good for each other. Even with this knowledge, it was hard to break way – I have never been a fan of the scary unknown. I didn’t realize I had already lived through something far, far worse: an angry, chaotic marriage.
Therapist asked me how I was feeling. ‘How very cliché,’ was my response. He asked how my holidays were; he asked if I was depressed. He asked why I had never grown up. My answer was because my parents had taken care of me and now my husband does – the only difference is that I like my parents. He reminded me of my complaint that all of my friends are leaving me behind in various [positive] ways: graduate degrees, promotions, vacations, throwing dinner parties, planning parenthood, buying homes, decorating their Christmas trees, being grown-ups.
I sat there, tapping my toe, internally cringing. He asked me what I do take responsibility for – finances, work, weight, dishes, parenting, anything? I answered no, and he was pleased. I felt like that was the right answer, the answer he was looking for – which is terrible, I know, ‘tailoring’ my answers to give this awful therapist an ego boost. But I can tell he’s too wrapped up in the outcome of our relationship with his worth as a professional. Hey, they’re human, too. I just don’t have the heart to tell him it’s over.
Like Pat Benatar said, love is a battlefield. Our battlefield included our apartment, the car, our friends’ homes, the grocery store, in bed, a museum, a parking lot – there were no limits to our drama or unhappiness. If two people could sit or stand in it, we found time to fight in it. The only place we belonged was Thunderdome.
I wanted to go to bed – but somewhere between my monstrous toothache, failing marriage, and getting stuck on the registered sex offender website, I fell short of my goal. Things are getting worse, but I don’t know what to do.
Looking back, of course, I saw all the warning signs and wondered why our relationship just wouldn’t die. But that was the point of me looking back in the first place: to see the truth, however brutal; to learn a lesson in ‘what not to do.’ I am, as always, a walking after-school special.
I’m going through one of those ‘I used to be’ days. I used to be This and I used to be That, but now I’m just Blah. Once upon a very long fucking time ago, I used to be carefree, seemingly fearless. I laughed in the face of Death (a by-product of being young and dumb) and played Life with wild abandon. I was passionate about things, and made friends quickly; I used to shriek more and question less. My ideas of success, love and relationships, confidence, and career weren’t filled with anxiety or pain. This used to be easier.
Now I buy 10-second fix-me books, looking for the newest personal cure-all. I fill up the many gaping voids in my life with food, and then wonder where size six went. I rearrange my furniture, seeking the perfect Zen layout, hoping to restore order to my ever-shrinking life and livelihood. I buy and buy and buy and buy – Ebay, Craig’s List, Norstrom, Zappo’s, Target, Amazon – you name it, I’m shopping there. But it doesn’t even feel good anymore.
My world is getting smaller every day, my life is getting smaller, I am getting smaller. I wonder, when I wake up tomorrow, will I even recognize this life? I helped make it, so it should look somewhat familiar. It just feels more and more like someone else’s life, someone else’s mistakes. My brain is accountable for my choices, actions, fuck-ups – so how can the brain that got me into this situation ever hope to get me out of it?
I want more laughter, less fear, but I’m numb. With my eyes wide open, I’m watching my life in slow motion, scared of the next chapter but ready for the credits to roll. I used to be This and I used to be That, but now I’m just Blah. I think I used to be happy?
That question mark said it all. I couldn’t even tell if I was happy or sad. I just chain-smoked, hung out with my friends, fought with my husband, and survived. I did what I could to escape, without self-medicating, but denial proved to be a stronger drug. When I finally began to confront the truth, it wasn’t for real answers; I was just testing the waters.
Conundrum. As in, “I’m in the middle of a…” At what point do I confront myself with reality? At which intersection do I make a self-assured left? Why can’t I just be an overbearing, parade-leading lesbian with cats?
Our marriage ended in a whirlwind, bridge-burning tour of pain. Isn’t that how all great marriages end – with as much physical, mental, and emotional pain possible? He knows what he did, I know what I did – but I think we could both agree that we didn’t treat each other well. Our relationship was like a fireworks show: short, expensive, dangerous – and bound to end sometime.
And so, like duct tape being ripped off of my nipples, life begins again. We didn’t say good-bye, we just said ‘see you later.’ I guess it’s time to wake-up.