My little husband was cozily ensconced in a booth at the Thai restaurant. It was not closing and he was in no rush to leave. I sat down. He wanted to chat.
“How was your dinner?”
“Fine. We went to “My Father’s Office”—I love how they serve the fries in a little wire cart.”
“Sweet. Hey, so lately I’ve been thinking . . . blah blah blah me me me . . .”
Soggy from the brief run in the rain, I sat across him lifeless, shivering, listening to his latest insight about himself or woe about his life. All the while my soul, my body, my pussy, the unrequited monstress remained in the hotel room, bereft, howling.
Later in bed I curled away from my husband who, I’m pretty sure (like me) pretended to sleep, and I motionlessly and silently received the pummeling blows of a boxing heavyweight in my stomach. The pain was so acute it took everything from me: my ability to move, my breath, my tears. I was a desolate body naked on a bed. I simply couldn’t see how I’d rebuild a fortress from there.
I don’t remember much after that. I don’t remember how I got up the next day or how I went on pretending. I let routine guide me, I suppose. Did I go to work? Did I do what I was asked to?
At some point we moved to an apartment in Venice, a few blocks from the beach. I disliked the dark apartment and the fussy, obsessive compulsion with which my husband furnished it while I was at work. But I had no fight in me. My monstress subdued, I was going through the motions. I kept on getting sick, me who never missed a day of school. One sinus infection after another, the body talking to me, refusing to breathe.
It took a few months after that explosive night for the dust to settle. The debris of my self-deceit was carried away, eventually, by tears and therapy, and I decided I couldn’t do it anymore.
Near Independence Day I asked my husband to meet me on the beach after work. I was there early, writing in my journal the true words that flowed freely about the end of our marriage. It was terrifying to contemplate. The inevitable loss of his family, especially. But the alternative, the universe had made it clear, was a form of death. I simply do not have the constitution to live in untruth. To settle for less than Life.
I look up. “Hey . . . come sit.”
How ironic, I felt once more, that the responsibility of ending the relationship fell on me. He’d done plenty of the sabotaging, but again, I would have to be the one saying the words.
“I have something difficult to tell you. Do you mind if I read straight from my journal?”
He smiles kindly.
It would be years before I encountered the principles of Non-Violent Communication, but I had intuitively put them into practice. Words without accusations or animosity. Just plain, incontestable observations of my feelings and unmet needs.
Nothing about Mike.
I glance at Scott from time to time to meet his gentle myopic blue eyes. He is surprisingly quiet, not interjecting.
“. . . and I think it’s time for us to separate.”
I close my journal. Put it on the sand. Look at him.
Is that relief I see in the way his chest fills with air?
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