Doesn’t everyone want to die over the interpersonal tensions of a blended family, two jobs, dishes, dirty diapers and vacations? Unpleasant work reviews, doctor appointments and depression? told him I was depressed, but he would get mad. He would tell me my doctor’s appointments were a sham, that I shouldn’t take medication for my mind, that he saw all of this as being irresponsible…
My depression… ? I could shake it off, as it was all in my head, after all. Some other times, my depression was a personal reflection of him (if I loved him, I wouldn’t be depressed; if I understood his love, I wouldn’t be depressed). Never mind, he threatened to leave me and the kids without food every payday for years. (The payday – my escape from my childhood – now looms ominously every two weeks!)
The fights were explosive, a true “guns and roses” relationship. When I saw a gun, on Tuesday, I would see roses, on Thursday. The fights got progressively worse, for more than a decade. When I tried flipping the script on these fights and overcompensating with kindness to the kids during our fights, then I was using the children as a weapon. Quite literally – in every way – there was no way I could ever win. He told me that I was using the kids as a weapon frequently, but that I was, then, obsessed over my children. I was. I would be obsessed over my children because I loved them, I wanted to encourage them, but – most importantly, and quite unhealthy – I was living, vicariously, through them. Somehow, keeping them safe, undid a lot! What happened in the living room on Beechwood undid my childhood, the poverty, the suicide attempts of my mother, and all the raping, or so it seemed. It was all working, until it wasn’t.
One sick day in 2005, I called off, to grade papers. (If you think that’s odd, you must not know a teacher: you’re called off to clean your house, to grade papers, to get ready for conferences, to get ready for Christmas, etc.). So, I called off to grade papers and headed to a local coffee shop. I didn’t want Savannah to know that I was off – she would want me to go volunteer or eat lunch at her school. I felt like a bad mom ditching her, but I had hundreds of papers to grade. If I get my coffee, life is good. It was morning, an I was an invincible juggernaut of energy. I was getting through the papers, bonding with my students in the process. Until I got home, he and SHE were laughing, at the end of the driveway. (I remembered how he’s been missing for months when I called: intestinal distress, late buses and overtime – all of the excuses and none of them were true.) The depression was so intense that felt like a knife in my windpipe. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear, I wanted to puke, I wanted to die… The soul crushing pain is quite unrelenting. For the first time in ten years, I looked at my medication differently – it provided safety and security for sleep, but then it would make me comfortably numb. I’ve accidentally felt that before, I – unknowingly – met the Xanman (an encounter that felt like finding the end of the rainbow, forever out of reach.)
One pill down. (That won’t do!) Two pills… Three… This was my first day of abuse – I was using conservative estimates. As the day went by, alcohol was added, opiates, Ambien, weed. When the day was done, all conservative estimates were out the window. It was my first day of pill abuse. (I would be using so many pills, in the future, that this memory would be largely forgotten for years.) I was a full eight months in sobriety before I could remember this – it is buried that deep. Years! There was the loss of jobs, deaths of parents and friends, the unexpected return of my childhood – poverty and fighting, along with sex and gender as a weapon. (Trust me, it is more horrific that you can imagine.) You thought you knew depression as a teen, suicidal for years? Bah, humbug! I can top that: weight gain, dysphoria and nicotine stains on my face; isolation in a crowd, no way out, job loss again… (I would know pain on a level I would have never imagined! Pain that is, quite frankly, macabre in more ways than none.)
He doesn’t realize that when I’m up, I’m way up. 96 ungrade semester credit hours in 24 month; a master’s degree, a master’s thesis that had all statistical calculations 100% done by hand. I ran the Indian Maidens and Girl Scouts, field trips, teams, departments, scrapbooks; and – my final cut – parties (birthdays, Halloween, religious), taking care of my parents, financial contributions in excess – financial spending in excess. The house would have been cleaned while you left for night diving classes. In all of my success, my family and friends felt loved by me and felt trusted by me. But did they… Ughm… Did they really feel that? In all of my success, I was there, watching my mother die. In all of my success, Lilly died, kids failed my class, failed a test… Set the stage for life. In all of my success, my husband wished he never married me! His violence and hate were palpable. (Why else am I overcompensating with the kids?) His temper tantrums extremes – no fear left untouched. I also knew his darkness (not revealed here and never will be!). In all of my success, my husband threatened to leave all of the time, turning payday into a shitshow. I thought money bought love – that’s what I mistakenly learned from my parents.
Then, one day, it all disappeared, imperceptibly, like the mountains washing into the sea – there was now no me and him. Job loss, divorce, money woes, a mistress… All of that. (And you thought raising kids and washing dishes before work was hard?) There was not even a soul like to crush, no soul to squeeze. The soul was dead. The roller coaster of emotions has subsided, so long, in fact, that the roller coaster looked to be in an abandoned theme park. Weeds and trees commingle freely in abandon. I watered my trees AND my weeds – they co-mingle freely in isolation. No one cared to look, anyway.
No one comes here anymore… This is where I live now.
How macabre is that? For all of my insanity and panic attacks, I laugh freely now and I laugh often. So frequently I notice if even a few hours go by without laughter. So frequently it had been, my husband forgot I could laugh. I laugh about silly things, interesting things, the nature of man and their fight or fit attacks gone wrong. I believe the laughs will never stop – but will they??? Please help make that a NO!
You was the monster in your life? Hasn’t the entire population been talking about this for months? From Kevin Spacey to the Horrific Olympic Doctor. From Al Franken to Harvey Weinstein. From your uncle, to your husband and everyone in between. There needs to be more punitive measures. Remember Brock Turner? That was a travesty of justice. Change that with me: if mother’s against driving did, why not use?
I am selling T-Shirts when the funds will go directly to putting abused women back on their feet. It is simply a the word MONSTER in all caps with the red circle with a line through it. Let’s fight in solidarity! Ditch the pink pussy hats and wear this shirt to let men know they won’t get away with it with you.
“Research looking at how adolescent girls started to lose their sense of who they were — thinking, talking and saying what they felt. You weren’t supposed to question boys. You weren’t supposed to know anything, so to speak.” Time Magazine
“The average college-educated man, for instance, improves his earnings by 77 percent from age 25 to 45, while similar women improve their earnings by only 31 percent. Men without college degrees increase their earnings much faster than similar women in the first decade of their careers, but by age 45, women catch up. That is too many years lost in my opinion” The New York Times
“The big reason that having children, and even marrying in the first place, hurts women’s pay relative to men’s is that the division of labor at home is still unequal, even when both spouses work full time. That’s especially true for college-educated women in high-earning occupations: Children are particularly damaging to their careers” UpShot
“Women are more likely to give up job opportunities, to either move or stay put for their husband’s job. Married women might also take less intensive jobs in preparation for children, or employers might not give them more responsibility because they assume they’ll have babies and take time off.” The New York Times
Now more monsters, I can breathe again!