When One Door Closes…
It had been eight weeks of relationship limbo, neither one of us wanting to admit defeat.
We’d gone back and forth a ridiculous amount of times about where things were going and what steps we needed to take in order to salvage our family, but he never really put forth the effort and instead led me on with an endless string of empty promises. I, being a bit naïve and extremely unwilling to face my fears of being abandoned, half-heartedly went along with his charade in order to keep what was left of the life we had built together.
I’m pretty sure he already knew what he was going to do the moment he met her.
I didn’t know who she was. I didn’t even know she was the reason my world had been turned upside-down. While my gut told me that there was another woman or women in the picture, I never had the type of proof I needed to satisfy myself.
That didn’t appear until later.
Instead, I took full responsibility. I had done something wrong. I wasn’t good enough. If only I was more attractive, thinner, funnier, less clingy, more independent; any one of these things, or a combination of many, could have saved me from the heartache I was about to endure.
Or so I thought.
He’d been sleeping on the couch for longer than I’d like to admit, but I comforted myself with the idea that at least we were still together. I wasn’t ready to give up my family yet. Truthfully, I probably never would be.
I was also scared shitless to be alone.
We hadn’t seen each other much in the last two weeks. He worked late, or drank late, or was fucking her late. I’ll never know for sure. In any event, he was gone most days and by the time he did come home I had already barricaded myself in our bedroom. I felt safe there, contained in its four walls. He never dared to enter it as he was too much of a coward to face me and deal with the mess he had created.
Night after night, I’d forget about the world that was unraveling outside my bedroom door. Instead I would numb myself with trashy television shows and marijuana. It was the only reason I got through the last few weeks of our relationship without having an absolute meltdown. During the day I busied myself taking care of our son. I put a smile on my face and pretended everything was fine. But after the sun went down, and he was safely tucked into his bed, the silence of our apartment was deafening. With it came the reality of what my life had become and where it was headed and rather than face it, I chose to run.
Until the running finally exhausted me.
I grew weary of not knowing where we stood. I was tired of being taken advantage of. Most of all, I was sick of leaving my son and my fate in the hands of someone who was so reckless. It was time for me to face my fears in order to take back control of my life.
I waited up for him that night with full intentions of threatening him. Of course he had never expected it. The truth is it was rare for me to confront him about anything. I never rocked the boat. I mostly kept the peace. I figured some battles weren’t worth fighting, but the problem with that was my not standing for anything made me a complete pushover.
I didn’t want to be that woman anymore.
At first he tried to brush me off, which was his usual response whenever I broached the subject of our relationship.
We’d talk about it another time. He was tired. Not now.
But I had heard these excuses a million times before and I refused to spend another night not knowing where this was going, so I cornered him in the living room and demanded answers.
Did he love me? Was there someone else? Was he leaving me?
“I can’t do this anymore.”
And with that I was engulfed in a sadness so gut wrenching I couldn’t move or speak; all I could do was cry. There were so many things I wanted to say, but I was paralyzed with fear as my worst nightmare was coming true. In a matter of minutes the room was filled with my complete and utter devastation, as I sobbed so violently I could barely breathe.
I don’t think I actually ever thought he would leave. Sure we were having problems, but we loved each other. We had spent the last five years of our life building something special. We had a son who needed us, together. I could never comprehend throwing that all away without a fight.
But the fight never came. His white flag was already raised.
As I sat on our couch bawling, he stood up to walk away.
“I’ve got to go. I’m meeting people at the bar.”
I begged him to stay. I told him it wasn’t safe to leave me alone. What if our son woke up? I couldn’t take care of him like this. But he didn’t care. He was finally free. His dirty work was done. He was rid of the guilt that had been building up inside of him for the past eight weeks. And apparently he was going to celebrate while I began to mourn the loss of the family I had known.
As he left the apartment, I screamed in frustration. Everything I thought I wanted was walking out the door and there was nothing I could do to stop it. How could he leave me? What would I do? Where would I go? What about our son? The more panicked I became, the more reality began to escape me.
I knew if I was left alone with my irrational thoughts I would do something destructive, so I called my best friend. When she picked up the phone I didn’t say a word, and I didn’t have to. She was the only woman I knew who would completely understand what I was going through, because she too had been there.
For the next hour she listened to me sob. She didn’t ask questions. She didn’t judge. She was there for me in a way that no one had ever been and her selflessness that night changed the way I looked at her, as well as myself.
Eventually I calmed down enough to tell her the details of what had happened. She gave me some advice. She shared her own fears that she had gone through the previous year when her child’s father left. It was comforting to know that she had been there before and, more importantly, survived. It gave me enough hope to get through that night.
I hung up the phone knowing things would never be the same; that I would never be the same. Everything I thought I knew about myself, about love, and about being a parent, was about to change.
I was now a single mom.
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