The morning I left my husband we both cried. I was going to the airport for a weekend trip, and he was leaving to visit family for a few weeks. We both knew when he came home again I would 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 always had done and held each other. I rolled my little 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, with my arms around his neck. Him bent over with his head on my shoulder, keeping me close. More crying.
Somehow I endured a Lyft ride with a guy who kept trying to talk to me about movies. I wanted to fall apart and to scream and to sleep all at the same time. How do people not know this is the day I’m falling apart? How do they keep looking at me and talking to me and breathing near me? Don’t touch me. Don’t look. I can’t move.
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, curled inside myself as deep and dark as I could get. I was somewhere tucked inside where it was a little bit safe and people were far away with their laughter and iPhones and airplane snacks. It was so dark it was almost was comical- “Hey, how are you, where are you going?” “Oh, just leaving my husband. Pass the peanuts.”
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 extra long mornings in bed when we both had a Saturday off. The brunch by the water on Sundays. The walks with the dog. The summer nights- the time we both downloaded Pokémon Go and ran around barefoot in the front yard. The bushel of oysters we ate off the grill. The 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 beginning of its 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 consented to talking about it. We met on the couch, fans oscillating furiously thanks to 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 a brunch. He turns away in bed or doesn’t come at all. He’s with his friends more often than not. There’s no pet names or asking me about my day. He just exists. Somehow he denies it and tells me nothing is wrong until finally something is wrong. This time, it was the kids. He didn’t want to have any.
I told him we were done.
I already knew- the problem wasn’t the kids.
It was me.
You see, we had always planned on having kids. At least, I had always planned on kids, and he was always well-aware and agreeable. From the day I could hold a doll, I was planning on kids. 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 God’s good grace. At seventeen I chose nursing over pre-med 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 get done before toddlers were running around. We had even bought a house with an extra room! You cannot tell me this man I married somehow overlooked the fact that kids were a part of the plan and then magically realized overnight he didn’t want it.
The truth is, he did not care.
He did not want them because he did not want me.
The night of his grand reveal he packed up a bag to stay at a friend’s house. We were crying. 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. Kind of contradictory to the ‘love you.’ Anyway, that night I was the one following him outside until he made me go back into the house. We both were bawling 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 in that miserably hot house when I told him some men chose women like me. Some men wanted women of faith who wanted to raise children. He wanted me to stay, but he didn’t want what made me me to stick around… My faith, my dreams. It was enough when he, so sincerely, so kindly, conceded, “It’s okay, we’ll figure it out, I’ll just cope with it.”
And that was one more nail in the coffin.
I realized I am not a woman to be coped with. I am a woman to be cherished.
Welcome to your final descent.