I haven’t written regularly in ages. I haven’t had the urge. Even when I get an idea in my head for a post, a lack of motivation kills whatever ideas I may have concocted. BUT…I’m sitting here a bit buzzed after a long, stressful week at work and decided to catch up on some reading when I saw this week’s FTSF topic: One of my biggest fears I ever had to face…
The biggest fear I’ve ever faced, and overcome, is the fear of leaving the twins’ mother.
What started out as a somewhat normal relationship between myself and a woman four years my senior rapidly turned sour. I realized rather quickly that we were severely different people and that there was no chance we would ever be happy together.
Despite my realization, I put off saying anything to her for a multitude of reasons. She was a single mom struggling to pay her bills. She guilted me into moving in with her because she was having financial trouble. Yes, the decision to move in with her was ultimately mine, but manic breakdowns where she told me she’d have to beg her ex-husband to take her back multiplied the guilt factor ten-fold. So I moved in with her. We are different people, though. While she has socially liberal views, she lives somewhat conservatively and has a very conservative sense of humor. Or, she did at that time. I obviously have no idea what she’s like now. I was foul-mouthed, 20 years old, and not ready for (nor wanting) the type of responsibility she was thrusting upon me.
After about three months of shenanigans, I decided I couldn’t live like that any more. And I told her so. She flipped the fuck out. She went bananas. She screamed. She cursed. She stormed out the door and told me over her shoulder that she was going to jump off the I-75 overpass and left me there with her sleeping children. Eventually, she came back, but I didn’t end up leaving because I was suddenly afraid.
What if she actually kills herself? Could I live with the guilt? What would happen to me? How would I deal with it? What would happen to her children? Their father moved across the country.
I ended up staying, but things got worse. She was paranoid about me leaving. She was controlling. She was manic. She was oppressive. I knew she needed help, but at the tender age of 20 I didn’t have a damned clue how to help her. I tried to stick it out, but I just couldn’t deal. I told her again I was going to leave…and then it happened.
She actually tried to commit suicide.
When I first told her she tried to storm out of the room. She was going to go jump of the I-75 overpass. I had to physically restrain her from leaving the room. I was not going to let her hurt herself. After a while she seemed to calm down and told me she needed to use the restroom. I moved myself down the hallway far enough so that she could reach the bathroom, but couldn’t make a run for the front door.
It never occurred to me just what we kept in the bathroom. You know, where the medicine cabinet is. For the life of me I just didn’t see it coming.
She came out moments later. She slowly crept towards our bed and laid down on the floor beside it. She calmly gazed towards me, and as a tear rolled down her cheek told me, “When you wake up tomorrow you won’t have to worry about me again.”
She had swallowed an entire bottle of Benadryl.
To say that I was shocked would be an understatement of elephantine proportions. I collapsed upon our bed and wept like a child who’d had his candy taken away. In my horror it never occurred to me to call 911. It never occurred to me to seek help. I was just…shocked. So I wept.
The morning came and we both awakened. Relief swept through me like a tornado through the corn fields of Oklahoma. She was alive, but she spent the majority of the next three days in our bed asleep. It still never occurred to me to call 911 the next morning. It never occurred to me to do anything. I knew she needed help, but the thought of telling her family the reason she was trying to kill herself was because I was trying to leave her prevented me. So I said nothing to no one.
I also decided from that moment forward that I would stay with her no matter what. I was not going to be the reason she committed suicide. I was never again going to do anything to push her towards that ledge. I was never going to do anything to jeopardize our “relationship.” When, months later, she dragged me to the jewelry department and said, “This is the wedding ring I want,” I didn’t object, despite the fact that I had never proposed (nor did I want to). When, a couple of months after that, she told me she wanted another child, I agreed without argument.
Eight months later she was pregnant. Nine months later I was the proud parent of a set of beautiful twins.
Years went by. She spent two years in college. Our boys took our full attention. When they got a bit older and required less of our attention, though, unhappiness began to creep back into my psyche. She was still controlling. She was possessive. Our personalities were still complete opposites. Most importantly, though, I didn’t love her. And never had.
For years I had wrestled with the idea of leaving her, but I never did. I was still frightened by that night. I was still afraid of what she’d do to herself. More, I was afraid of how my children would cope. Would they be okay? Would me leaving fuck them up? Would they hate me? Would things be alright? It was a perpetual struggle.
But I made a commitment. I told myself I would honor that commitment no matter how unhappy I was.
One night as I sat at the computer (doing whatever it was one did at a computer in 2006 – probably MySpace), she came down to say goodnight. The obviousness of my unhappiness was soaked on my face. She asked me what was wrong.
Before I could come up with some bullshit, which was what I always did, I blurted, “I don’t love you.” I have no idea what compelled my mouth to spew those words. In the past I was always able to come up with some lie to tell her about what was bothering me. Maybe my subconscious was tired of my bullshit.
She flew off the handle. I can’t even remember what she said, but none of it was pleasant and all of it was at a decibel high enough to shatter glass. As I sat there, dejected and berated, I decided I’d finally had enough. My limit had finally been reached. The meter was full at last. I wasn’t going to take this shit anymore. I wasn’t going to stay in this façade of a marriage. I wasn’t going give her happiness at the expense of my own. I was finished sacrificing my life.
It was the bravest thing I’ve ever done. I refused to be controlled any longer. Her emotional manipulations fell on deaf ears. Her angry outbursts solidified my resolve.
There was one moment of weakness, though. One night as I returned the twins to her, their tears shattered my resolve. I came back home, but things only got worse. A month later I left again and never looked back.
It’s been nearly 10 years since this all transpired, and none of my fears came to fruition. She didn’t commit suicide. In fact, she finally sought treatment after I left. My boys, though they were initially distraught, have turned into fine young men whom I’m proud to call my sons. They are kind, funny, and compassionate souls and I’m still unsure what I did to make them turn out as well as they have (or even if I had anything to do with it).
Deciding to end a relationship, and a family, may not seem like a brave thing to do, but out of everything I’ve ever faced it was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do.