Wednesday, February 11, 2009

After

It is a strange situation when you find yourself a stranger in your own life. I wake up in the same bed, drive the same car and yet every breath seems foreign to me. This is not the same life I have been living. There is no car seat in the truck, no lunch box to pack, everything is exactly as I leave it everyday when I return. After fourteen years of being with someone I am experiencing loneliness for the first time. I have envied so many single friends and only now do I understand what it is like to be all alone surrounded by a sea of humanity. I surf through Facebook and Myspace trying to find old friends and struggling to make new ones. I have been hidden for so long beneath this enormous lie that was our marriage and trying so hard to pretend like my life was the same as my peers that I don't know where to start sometimes. There is no twelve step program to stand up and declare "I am a battered woman. My husband is an alcoholic, a drug abuser, and suffers from a debilitating mental disorder. I chose him and I stayed with him until he almost killed me. Today is the first day of the rest of my life"
Everything still has the tainted feel of the previous life. I still park the car and sit gathering my thoughts and preparing for whatever I might walk into. In my old life I never had the luxury of stability or security. I used to sit in the garage trying to ready myself for the nights activities. Sometimes I walked in and all was well. Sometimes I walked into a war zone, shifting from the chaos that was work into the chaos that was home. It is amazing how quickly you learn to make those adjustments. How hard it is to let go of the known, even when it is cruel and cold, just to avoid the unknown.
I walk into her room and it is so cold. There's no need to keep the heater on if she's not going to be there. Dust is starting to settle on the windowsill. I still think I hear her chasing the cats through the living room. The last night she was here I slept in her room. Beside her crib, which is unusual because when things were really bad I used to sleep under it. God what a shitty mother I was to need my child to protect me from my husband. I slept under her crib, woke up the next morning and went to work like nothing was wrong. After living a falsehood so long you start to forget where the truth really lies. In my case, it was under a crib. I think I'm going to get rid of it soon.
I started cleaning the house. Removing the years of accumulated memories and disappointments. No need to hold onto birthday cards from a decade ago. I suppose there never was, but I did it anyway and now I'm not quite sure what to do with all the shoe boxes of promises and dreams that will never be realized. Do I keep them for her so she knows that we loved each other, that her history and birth was not a mistake. Or do I just let it all go. A past life that is gone and is never coming back. I suppose a lot of it depends on what happens now, in the After. If he breaks down, gets hospitalized, kills himself, or me then it will be all she will have to know her father. I think of all the freshly orphaned children I have seen in my job and I know they want to hold onto all those memories. Everything their parent ever wrote or even touched. I just don't know whether she will need these things. I don't know if I need them. I guess it goes back to the question I ask all the time. Am I widowed or divorced? Is the man I married dead or alive.
The painful part has been finding all the hidden parts of him. Trash bags of empty vodka bottles, 211 malt liquor, and remnants of drug abuse. Some of it explains the ups and downs, the times I knew he was high or drunk but listened as he lied to my face. The answers to the worst moments of my life hidden in cabinets, on top of the refrigerator, under the mattress. Hauling it all out into the light of day I realize just how far down the rabbit hole he has gone and why I can never follow him down. I've been cleaning for days now and I don't know if I'll ever get the stain of him out of my house, off my body, and free from my soul.
So I suppose this is After. Decidedly different then before. Better, but I don't know who I am anymore. Maybe I never did. I just know that there was a Before and an After. But right now it just seems like I'm still stuck in the middle.

6 comments:

FridaWrites said...

Clearing the house of old stuff can make a huge difference to its energy as well as your own. Getting some of the boxes you've not decided about just put out of the way and in a spare closet for now may make you feel better.

I think it was good that you slept near your daughter. No one can blame you for sleeping under a crib, for trying to feel safe. You've done what you needed to in order to survive.

Some places that offer shelter for people who have experienced abuse do indeed have support groups, and talking with other women may help. Starting your life over is hard.

Please don't isolate yourself from others. I know your worklife is busy, but is there a friend you can go out with briefly? Ask your coworker to have lunch or dinner with you? Is there something special that you like to do that would feel comforting, like watching some light movies? Doing something out of the routine would help a lot. Please give yourself permission to do whatever would bring you joy or make you feel comfort.

If you ever want someone to talk to, please don't hesitate to contact me-- fridawrites at gmail.

You are a strong woman, very strong.

Ladyk73 said...

I had left an abusive relationship went I was in college. I was with the idiot for four years. When I left him, it was so very very hard. After all of the mind-games, and threats, domination, and isolation....I suddenly was alone. Alone and empty and lost. Please talk to someone, a professional. Perhaps even contact the local domestic shelter and ask if they know of a good therapist. Someone not affiliated with your training.

This is a hard road, without also dealing with a residency. One proven in it's cruelity.

Please be well

Ninja Medic said...

We should talk sometime.

Really.

Carol S. said...

I really love a message board www.soberrecovery.com It is fee and they have some amazing forums.

I found people just like me there, and it was so nice to know I wasn't alone.

Anonymous said...

While reading every line I cried. Not because I haven't seen it before, but because I didn't do something as simple as stop, listen, give a hug or just be human. To give these things to people I don't even now is thing. To not give it to someone I do know, makes me hate myself. I have spent close to 13 yrs changing the lives of people that may or may not change a life in return, but to see someone who has so much to give and asks for so little in return... you have taken steps to change, you know that is one of the biggest steps to take. You have fought to get where you are. You have given more than anyone could ever ask of you. You have sacrificed and made decisions that shatter even the strongest soul, but for this I respect you more than you know. I don't know what to say. I don't know how to feel. All I can say is please forgive me for not doing what I could have done and please don't stop being you. You do change lives, you are special and you do matter. Please, please, please know these things. I'm sorry.

Irishdoc said...

As you may surmise, the previous comment is from a friend of mine who I have just recently let in to my life. I am working on letting people in, slowly and deliberatly. There are three people who know me in the real world and have access to my blog. There reactions vary between devastated and relativly indifferent. I am still learning who to trust. Hell, I'm still learning everything.