Six Months Ago
I feel trapped.
I feel lost. I am drowning in this life and there is no way out. Every morning I wake up exhausted. I go through the day wrapped in anxiety. Little things that shouldn’t bother me build up until I can’t take it anymore and I lash out.
I let my job cause me way more stress than it should. I back out of plans with my friends because I can’t be bothered to put on a smile. I tell myself that it’s me: it’s my mental health issues that are the root of all the problems in my life.
Our daughter tells me that she wants to sleep in my bed because Daddy is mean to Mommy and she doesn’t want me to be lonely. She yells at me and when I ask why she says it is because that’s how Daddy talks to me. She’s only four but she isn’t dumb. She sees how you treat me.
My dad is dead and I will never get another chance to speak to him. I barely saw him in the last year and a half of his life, and it wasn’t because of my mental health issues. It wasn’t me: it was you. You say you are working on change, but I will never get that time back. I’ve been holding it inside for five years, but I don’t know if I could ever forgive you for taking that away from me.
I know I’m a bad cook. I don’t like cooking so I don’t try very hard. But when I do try, it’s always wrong. There is always something to insult. Even when I tried so very hard to make those cookies with the kids for the crossing guard. I followed the recipe exactly, step by step, exactly what it said. The feedback I got from you? “Yeah, they’re okay I guess.” I mean I know they weren’t the best cookies ever made. But would it have killed you to give me one compliment?
I’m a pretty low maintenance person. Let’s be honest: it takes you at least twice as long to get ready. A good part of that may be that I always have at least one child attached to me and I really don’t have the time to dry my hair or put on makeup. I get that maybe it seems like I’m not putting in enough effort on a daily basis. I would much rather get an extra half hour of sleep and wear a ponytail or a French braid, instead of drying hair that is just going to be pulled or putting on mascara that is just going to be smeared by little fingers.
But sometimes I do make the effort. Sometimes I spend extra time in the washroom trying to look nice. Sometimes I shave my legs and put on a dress…and sometimes even lipstick. I get the same reaction: oblivion. I am the nanny; the maid; the chauffeur; the punching bag. I am not the partner; the lover; the equal.
We have been here before. I have threatened to leave; you have begged me to stay. You have promised change; you have begun the process more than once. What makes it any different this time? What makes you any more dedicated to our relationship than before?
Is it because I am stronger this time? Because I know that I can make it on my own? It will be so, so hard, but I know I can do it. I have a support system this time. It does not consist of my family, because you’ve made sure that I wouldn’t go to them for help, but I have more friends than I realized. More people that truly care about me and our girls.
Not a day has gone by since this whole fiasco started that I haven’t had at least one person check in on me. I have people inviting me over for supper. I have people showing up at my house unannounced to bring me coffee and treats. I have people offering me copious amounts of wine. I have open invitations to the homes of my friends, and I know that they are sincere. I know that it will be the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I know that I can do this alone.
I don’t want to be alone. But I know that I can be.
You have torn apart my self-esteem. I have felt worthless. I have felt unwanted and broken. I have felt alone even when I am in my home with my family — with you. You withdraw and you pull back and you go days without speaking to me. When you do speak to me, it is insulting and hurtful. You have no idea how hurtful you can be.
Intimacy is another issue. You will go days without touching me; without even brushing against me as you walk by. You will show affection to our children, kissing them and throwing them in the air. You will tickle them and laugh with them, yet I remain untouched. You will go weeks without telling me you love me, or kissing me, or holding me. I live devoid of physical contact and love.
I am afraid to tell you about my days. When our oldest misbehaves, I don’t know if you will sympathize with or blame me. When I express concern about our youngest’s development, you roll your eyes and say she’s fine before going back to your phone. When I tell you about a stressful part of my day, you sigh and ask me what I want you to do about it. Sometimes, I want you to do nothing. Sometimes, I want you to just listen to me.
I tell you the same things a hundred times. If I don’t put an event into the calendar on our phones, you won’t remember it. I can talk about a party I have been invited to for months, and still you act surprised when it is the day of and you’ve made plans for yourself. If it doesn’t have to do with you directly, you don’t remember. Or maybe you actually do remember, and you just don’t care. I feel like that is more likely.
I’m tired of being overlooked. I’m tired of being treated poorly. I’m tired of being yelled at. I’m just fucking tired.
The last straw was definitely that stupid Bruno Mars cake. You are a wonderful baker; you know that. You’re so incredibly talented. But I hate it when you bake. I do not want to be anywhere near you when you bake. We could have been having a wonderful week, and when you start a cake, watch out. You yell at me, you call me names, you blame me for not coming up with wonderful ideas yet you shoot down everything I say.
Enough was enough. You turned into a monster while you were doing that cake. I understand that you were stressed and it wasn’t going the way you wanted. But I was standing there, tears streaming down my face, as you continued to berate me. I went upstairs to escape it and you still wouldn’t stop. You kept coming upstairs and turning on the light to jab at me again. It’s never enough for you. You’ve never hurt me enough. There’s always something else you can say.
Why is this time different? Why did I stay before? Because I was selfish. The first time, I didn’t want to be 24 and divorced. I didn’t want to give up. You promised me change and I believed you. We did counseling and I thought things were getting better. We decided to have a baby. Things were better, for awhile. Until you told me that you lied your way through our counseling and that you really hadn’t changed at all.
The next time, I went out and looked at apartments. I was serious about leaving. Again, you promised change. Our daughter was a year and a half at that time. I thought it was best for her if we tried again. If I stayed and gave you another chance. You went to the doctor. You sought help. You went to counseling on your own…three times. Three times and you quit. But you promised you would work on it on your own. You would do reading and you would watch videos and you would work to change. So I stayed. Things were okay. We decided to have another baby.
Here we are again. I can’t keep doing this. Yes, you seem more dedicated to change than you ever have before. Yes, you love your girls with everything you have. Yes, you want to fix us…but is there an us left to fix? Do you want to fix us because you don’t want to have a broken home? You haven’t shown me real love in years.
I want a real love. I want someone who will be proud of me. I want someone who wants to spend time with me, who misses me when I’m not around, who can’t go a day without kissing me, let alone weeks. I can’t have this right now, and that’s okay. I’m going to have to learn to be okay with being alone.
I want what’s best for my kids. I need to put them first. It’s not healthy to have them in a home like this. It isn’t healthy for them to see their father treat their mother the way that you treat me. I don’t want them growing up thinking that this is how a man treats a woman, or how anyone treats their partner. There needs to be mutual love and respect, and I don’t feel that here.
If you look deep down, I know you agree with me. It would be so much easier to just stay together. Maybe we could start over, either here or in a new city. But I am still me and you are still you, and we would still end up in this same place, over and over and over until one of us is brave enough to leave.
I hope that you continue to get the help that you need. You really are a wonderful person underneath it all, and a great father. The girls love you and need you at your best. I will always want the very best for you, but that’s just not me anymore.