The morning I left my husband we both cried. I was going to the airport for a weekend trip, he was leaving to visit family for a few weeks. We both knew when he came back I’d be moved out.
I saw him in the kitchen that morning and we looked at each other a little awkwardly- were there rules on saying goodbye to your spouse? We did what we’d always done, held each other, until I rolled my bag to the front step and closed the door behind me.
He followed. Sometimes I wish he would have followed me forever. Or just found a way to stay good.
We held each other in the front yard. Me on my tip toes, my arms around his neck. Him bent over with his head on my shoulder, keeping me close.
Somehow I endured a Lyft with a driver who talked the whole ride about nothing. I wanted to fall apart and scream and sleep all at once.
How do these people not know this is the day I’m falling apart? How do they all keep looking at me and talking to me and breathing near me?
Don’t touch me. Don’t look at me. Please.
The flight cross-country is a long one. Longer when you feel like you’re somewhere between crushing, overwhelming sorrow- and I mean sorrow, deeper and broader and more absurd than regular old sadness- and simply not existing. I just shrunk smaller and smaller, collapsing inside myself, somewhere quiet where it was a little bit safe and far from laughter and iPhones and snacks.
Honestly, it was almost was comical- “Hey, how are you, where are you going?”
“Oh, just leaving my husband. I’ll have peanuts, thanks.”
Who was I to walk away? This Catholic girl, marriage is forever, love-him-till-I-die girl? How do I leave those arms, that face? Those joys, those hopes, those dreams? The routines, the rhythm. The long mornings in bed on Saturdays. Brunch by the water on Sundays. Summer nights- bushels of oysters, bottles of wine. Endless fights with the dog about staying off the couch until we realized we liked him on the couch.
It was a summer night when our marriage met the start of it’s end. The emotional distance was getting to be too much again, and I had finally worked up the courage to confront him.
Strike that. I confronted him all the time. This night, he agreed to talk.
We met on the couch, fans oscillating furiously against another heat wave. Just a little extra misery, salt in the wound, courtesy of California.
He admitted he knew he’d been off.
I always can tell right away- the touches don’t linger. The sex is lazy, at best. Slow Saturday mornings are gone. I beg for brunch. He turns away in bed, doesn’t come at all. He’s with his friends more often than not. There’s no pet names, no chats about the day. He just exists.
Somehow he denies it and tells me nothing is wrong- until finally something is wrong.
This time, it was kids. He told me he didn’t want any.
So I told him we were done.
I already knew, really, that the problem wasn’t kids.
It was me.
You see, we had always planned on having kids. At least, I had always planned on kids, and he had always been agreeable.
All I’d ever wanted was to be a wife and mom, to have a little home and family where we could grow in love and grace. From the day I could hold a doll, I was planning on it. At seventeen I chose nursing so I could have time at home to raise a family later. Now I was halfway through grad school because I thought it’d be easier to finish before toddlers were running around. We had just bought a house with an extra room!
You cannot tell me this man I married somehow overlooked the fact that kids were part of the plan and then realized overnight he didn’t want it.
The truth is, he did not want them because he did not want me.
The night of his grand reveal he packed a bag to stay at a friend’s house.
We were crying, again.
Clearly, a lot of crying goes into killing a marriage. Crying and saying I love you, crying in doorways, crying outside. He told me he was going to drink till he forgot everything, saying something about the biggest decision of his life being a mistake. The mistake was me, I guess.
Even still, that night I followed him out the door until he made me go back inside. We both were crying so much he couldn’t leave.
It didn’t matter; there weren’t enough tears in the world to save us.
It was another summer night, weeks later, when I told him some men chose women like me. Some men wanted women of faith who wanted children. He could tell me he wanted me to stay, but he didn’t want what made me me to stick around- my faith, my dreams, my heart.
It was enough when he, so sincerely, so kindly, conceded, “It’s okay, we’ll figure it out. I’ll just cope with it.”
That was that.
I am not a woman to be coped with. I am a woman to be cherished.
Welcome to your final descent.