The thing that stands out the most to me is the terrifying fear and panic I feel in each pen stroke. No wonder I latched onto Celexa like it was a life-saving device when I was drowning. I thought it had saved me; why would I ever consider that it was also harming me? Had anyone suggested such a thing, I would have laughed in their face. “Nonsense!” I would have cried. “This medication is life-saving. It’s completely altered my life. It’s allowed me to live and breathe!” It did for a time. I don’t know when, and I don’t know why, but at some point, Celexa quit lifting me up and began to drag me down.
For the past couple of months, I have searched through my mind in an attempt to find the moment that my miracle drug turned from savior to executioner. I play over conversations in my mind, scanning photos trying to find the day that I vanished from them. If I’m honest, I can narrow it close to roughly a year ago; sometime at the end of May and the beginning of June.
Until that point, I had honestly felt very little change in my day-to-day life. A heavy weight seemed to have been lifted from the relationship I had with my husband. We were getting along better than we had in awhile. I was very much sleep deprived; my youngest took a hard hit during the four-month sleep regression stage and decided that sleep, in her opinion, was not a necessity. I was trying to come to terms, in my own Type-A personality way, with the idea of divorcing the person who I had once had a crush on at thirteen. It felt overwhelming; where did I start? What steps are involved in a divorce with children? It was a blessing to be able to hold tight to my researching urges and dive in. I looked at lawyers, filing for ourselves, child custody, child support, the best visitation schedules. At one point, I printed out the eighteen page child-custody agreement that Florida follows and began to fill it out.
I reached out to friends who had gone through divorces. I asked what were things they recommended; what were things they wished someone had told them; how did they manage to keep their relationship working even though they were no longer a couple? I got many responses. A few warned me that things were going swimmingly now, but to be aware that things may not always go that way. I did not give it the attention it deserved. We were doing better than we had in such a long time; we had decided to try to co-habitat for the kids and both agreed that dating wasn’t something to be pursued until years down the line.
The cracks started to form in the perfect veneer. As I sit here, I can’t remember what started the first weakened spot. Maybe it was the fact that I was exhausted caring for four children, the house, and picking up so many pieces while it felt like my husband?—my soon-to-be-ex-husband? my separated husband? my ex?— was suddenly free to live a carefree and fun-filled life. He was gone most of the time; between a heavy work schedule and whatever plans he made, it felt like it was rare to see him for more than a handful of minutes per week. It made me angry; why did he get to go out to bars and make new friends? Where was he when it was time to change the fourth poopy diaper of the day, make dinner, start baths, and being the nightly bedtime square-off? I didn’t want to hear about how great this band sounded live. I didn’t give a damn about an awesome place that served bottomless mimosas. It hurt to be stuck in a house that was no longer wanted with a family that was broken apart. Anger turned to resentment, resentment morphed into jealousy. Jealousy, well, she’s a bitch. I started to become slightly obsessed with where he was, what he was doing, and why he got to go find himself well I sank deeper into a pit lined with crumbs, toys, and dirty clothes.
I realized very quickly that he wasn’t just going out “with the boys” and having fun. It sickened me to discover that he was already dating. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, An Open Letter to My Husband’s Girlfriend, I was able to shift through the hints that he slowly dropped.
I knew he wasn’t going to wait to begin dating. I knew this when he told me he was thinking of waiting a few months, maybe a year before he would begin dating. It was then that I knew he had already chosen someone to date.
Today, he claims that he told me he was going to start dating. I disagree vehemently with that statement. Had those exact words left his lips, or his fingertips, I would have ironed out no-nonsense rules regarding our kids. Instead, I found the proof through our cell phone bill and bank account.
The whirlwind of emotions that threatened to flatten me were fierce. I raged. I ranted. I wanted to cry, throw dishes, and raise holy hell. I did none of those things, however. I found that I couldn’t shed a tear; I yearned to sob and release some of the tension, the pain, but it was as if all my anger had removed all tears from my body. I did not throw dishes; I couldn’t justify the waste of breaking a perfectly good item and chancing a sliver of glass would make its way into a child’s foot. The holy hell that begged to be released was eventually quieted, hushed into submission, and that’s when the numbness began to take over.
A dear friend told me that I shouldn’t pay attention to what he is doing; we had decided to separate. His choices were his alone and I needed to focus on myself and my children. I listened to her. I stopped checking the phone records. When odd purchases or cash withdrawals showed up in the checking statement, I ignored them. I believed the lies that I was told because it was easier, tidier, and calmer. The fire that had once roared brightly was nearly snuffed out; I felt cold, numb, and very detached.
During this time, I began reading. I read about co-dependancy. I discovered the laundry list of adult children of alcoholics and dove in. I researched childhood trauma and its effects on adult relationships. I began therapy. Within the past few weeks, I discovered podcasts that have covered these topics and more. The words I’ve listened to have shaken me to my very soul. I’ve laid in bed at night with tears streaming down my face as strangers described my life and how I was feeling. The pain was immense. It throbbed and ached like a bad tooth. Sometimes I would feel my breath catch, the sharp jab near my ribs reminding me that the pain wasn’t merely emotional, but physical as well. Then, in late fall, I met my husband’s girlfriend.
Our initial meeting was brief. I was dropping the kids off at their new apartment. I had heard how she couldn’t wait to meet me all day from Lee. As I climbed the steps, I had no idea what to expect. This was such a new territory; one I hadn’t planned on entering until I had years to work through the demise of my marriage. Now, I was about to knock on the door of the apartment that the man I was still married to shared with another woman. Awkward doesn’t quite cover it.