A fictional story based on a reality I’ve seen happen to others too often.
She had loved hard. Like any woman who loves hard the blow of every development relating to his new life was soul crushing. More than his new life, it was their old life that she found herself thinking of constantly. She was always brought back to the innocent young lovers they had been. It was her that had thought about their plans and it was her that had dreamed about the type of life they’d build. She had known back then that they wouldn’t always be in a tough financial situation. She’d known they’d make it one day and she looked forward to the time when she could look back upon their younger years and remember that they didn’t have much but they had love. Every time she heard that song play on the radio, she thought of them living in their rundown, one-bedroom apartment having cold beer and chips. Back then, the world seemed to be filled with tomorrows and those nights it was just them, just love and just that song:
Ohhhh, we’re halfway there, ohhhh livin’ on a prayer, take my hand and we’ll make it I swear. Ohhhh, livin’ on a prayer!
And they did make it. She had taken on a job that would help cover their finances while he attended school and got his degree. She didn’t mind being the bread winner during those days. She knew that in the end, it was their future she was sacrificing for. That’s why the day he graduated had been one of the best days of their lives. They celebrated, made a toast to his achievements and she felt proud to have played such a huge part in helping him. Finally, their lives could begin.
For years, things were rosy. They moved into a house on the nicer part of town. They had two kids. Due to his outstanding performance at work he was able to afford her the ability to stay home with their kids. She jumped wholeheartedly into her role as mother. He worked hard to pay all the bills. They rarely got to spend too much time together, but when they did it was everything that it had always been. Perfect young love that had matured into even better husband and wife love. Beer and chips had turned into wine and chocolate. Their love was the type of love that grows. Their love was the type of love that sacrifices. Their love was the type of love that gets better with time; cozy and sweet. It was the type of love that doesn’t see this next thing coming.
I want a divorce.
He’d said it one night after she’d put the kids to bed, but it didn’t make too much of an impact on her. She knew he had a tendency to be dramatic. She knew he was mad about their recent arguments and the decreased amount of time they were dedicating to each other – to sex if she was quite frank about it. She also knew though that this was just him overreacting. She had always been the more grounded one and knew that things like this happen in marriage. You get busy with life! Things happen – peaks and valleys. She knew how she could stop the drama: humor.
“We’ll work it out, don’t be silly. I know we’ve been having a rough time lately, but there’s no need to throw the D word around…and I don’t mean di*k!” Wink. Cute, funny, something he usually feeds into. Today he didn’t even crack a smile. Alright…
“OK, I’ll make more of an effort and maybe we just need to get someone to babysit the kids more so we can do more date nights. I’m just really tired and I’m sure you are too. Let’s just go to bed.” She stood up to grab his face and look at him in the eyes. She gave him that look with the dimple that he’d always found endearing. She knew he’d tell her, “OK fine, but only because you’re cute when you flash me that dimple.” Except he didn’t. He didn’t say that and she’d seen something in his eyes. She’d seen what seemed like a slight glimpse of….repulsion? He firmly gripped her hand and moved it away from his face.
I want a divorce and I’m moving out.
Beneath her, the pedestal she’d stood on for years had been kicked out. What’s going on here? Something in her stomach turned as she realized he wasn’t kidding. Panic set in and in her legs a tingle that made her think her knees would give out.
It turns out he’d meant every word and within a week he’d moved all his things to his mother’s house. In one week, everything that she had done and everything that they had been was shattered. In one week, millions and millions of thoughts had created a migraine that no amount of pills could take away:
This will pass.
He’ll be back.
He can’t leave his kids.
What did I do wrong?
Am I not beautiful anymore?
I sacrificed so much for him.
He is who he is because of me; because of what I did for him.
What do I tell the kids? Tears…
I can’t tell anyone.
Every couple has problems.
Maybe if we see a therapist?
What we have is real love and love always finds a way.
That week she’d wandered the house. As she stared into his empty closet, she’d longed to take back all of the times she told him to clean his mess up. She wished she’d see a pile of his mess on the floor if it meant he’d be back. She’d cook dinner and wish she’d never complained about the dishes he didn’t wash if it meant she could see him sitting with their kids at the table again. She’d take a shower after the kids were in bed and wish he’d come in and try to sneak in with her. She wouldn’t be the least bit mad about him for interrupting her alone time.
The tasks of the days continued as they had, but nothing was the same to her. Nothing had the same flavor without him. Breakdown after breakdown occurred, in private mostly but sometimes in plain sight. In her car while she drove and heard that song, in the shower as the water fell on her head, in front of her mother as her mother cursed that man for ever crossing her daughter’s path. Mother. She was the only one that knew the immense pain and agony her daughter was feeling at her very core. She’d been there too one unforeseen Sunday afternoon.
She held her daughter tight knowing that it would be one of many times over the next few years she’d have to hold her this way. Because Mother, a victim of this very same scenario, knows what’s lurking next. Mother knows that daughter will soon hear the worst news yet.
To be continued…