From Medium: Chapter 8, Standing When The Ground Shakes

*This is the eighth chapter of a story that left off here last week.

You know how sometimes things that seemed so awful turn into some type of blessing? I’m, like, not religious or anything, but I do kind of believe in the universe handling things.

Without looking at it as a karma thing or a higher power thing, I do think that the day he called the police, and lied about me throwing a beer bottle, was a gift.

It got me out.

If the police had not come that day, I don’t know how that day would have ended. It ended with me cleaning up broken glass and him in jail. But, if they hadn’t come that morning, responding to his fake emergency, I may not have done all that I did that day.

I might not have felt strong enough. I remember feeling so scared and pissed, but I also know that I forgive like nothing else.

I would have done all the things I did. I just don’t know if it would have happened that day. It might have happened some other day, when my injuries were worse.

And, that’s terrifying.

 — -

Just caught the very end of Boyhood, again. And, Patricia Arquette’s freak out as she sends her son to college is so classic. It’s so real. And, it made me cry, again.

I remember crying the first time I saw it.

Life is a series of milestones, she said.

I never thought I’d include this milestone in my timeline. Just never did. Maybe I’m naïve. Maybe I’m optimistic. Maybe I’m blind. Maybe I’m stupid. Maybe this is just a part of life. Just wish it wasn’t part of mine.

The papers arrived in my email today. And, I’m too nervous to open them.

I just have had a lot of time to think this weekend. The kids have been gone since yesterday morning. And won’t be home for another 90 minutes or so, just in time for a little snuggling and bed. But the house looks amazing. I mean, I killed it, I must say.

I met up with a friend last night who I haven’t seen in about two years. And, as she always does, she offered me some powerful advice that I’ve heard in one way or another from several people who know me well. And, some who don’t know me at all.

She told me that sometimes we have to be who we’re going to be before we’re ready to be them. Fake it ‘till you make it, she said. I have to act like the person I’m going to become in the coming months, and I need to act like her right now.

She said she understood that for years I’ve made decisions out of fear, or with hopes that those choices would mitigate conflict or steady the ship — or keep it from rocking. And where did that get me? How did it help?

It didn’t.

Here I am. Here we are. Even despite me trying for years to make the “right” decision or approach a situation with caution or with someone else’s needs or wants in mind, it didn’t matter.

“Sometimes love isn’t enough,” she said. “Do you understand that?”

That is a sad truth for an optimist to swallow. I nodded.

“I’m not enough. I know that,” I said.

But that wasn’t it. She shook her head.

“No. Sometimes love isn’t enough. Sometimes love can’t solve it. Even when you love someone with everything you have, with every cell in your body. Sometimes it isn’t enough,” she said.

She equated it to loving a drug addict. Love can’t fix it. And it couldn’t fix this. And it wasn’t enough. So there you have it.

 — -

Today started with texts from him to my daughter saying he was in a car accident (just 10 minutes before we were to leave for school) and the day ended with him calling her and asking her to ask me to talk to him.

Not knowing then, that behavior would foreshadow so much in the months and years that would follow.

In between there were tears. First, from him, as he stood on the curb right next to my car when I drove to pick up our youngest from visiting with him. She was worried he might be hurt from the accident. She’s the queen of band-aids and I’m sure she was ready to take care of him if he needed it. She quickly learned there was nothing she could do, so she called for me to pick her up about 45 minutes after getting to his mom’s place.

Then it was my oldest. She sat in her sister’s bed, texting him, and started to cry. He told her, through text, that he was sad because I didn’t want to be married to him anymore and I wouldn’t talk to him.

Oh my shit. I mean, what the holy hell is going on in my life? In her life? In our lives? How did this all happen? How was my 10-year-old crying in her sister’s bed over these text messages that were so incredibly detached from reality?

The accident. He said it was bad. But he was okay. But he would “really love if he would hear from me in this emergency situation.” My oldest asked if I would call him. I said I wouldn’t. He was fine, and there’s nothing I could do.

He had the number for our car insurance guy. He even had to qualify his claim to my daughter by asking her to tell me “It’s not like the other time. This time it’s real.”

Come on.

He had to say that because a few months earlier, while I was at work, he faked a car accident and emergency room visit to try and get my attention. He faked it so hard he actually backed his truck into a wall to show damage.

So there my daughter sat, with her eyebrows raised, looking at me. I asked her if she had anything she wanted to say to me. She said no.

So I was the bad guy, to her. I was the horrible person who refused to fall for his manipulative games. When she finally saw the car after school, when he came to pick up our son and youngest daughter, she all but shrugged.

“It doesn’t look that bad,” she said. “The front is messed up but that is all.”

His grill was missing from the front of the vehicle. But she said he still had it and he could probably just put it back on. I just can’t.

So there he was, standing with his arm around our son and our youngest daughter, crying on the sidewalk right where I park to pick up the kids when I went to get our youngest, in total disregard of a protective order.

He was crying. Our son was crying. It was so awful.

Our son wanted to come home, but he very clearly was conflicted, not wanting to leave his dad crying on the sidewalk. Like, all of today was wrong. In so many ways.

And then the call that really flipped the switch for me. He called and asked our oldest daughter to ask me if I’d talk to him. This, after I sat with her and consoled her while she cried in her sister’s bed over the day. Cried about the accident. Talked about the day he was arrested. Discussed what she saw. Asked me why I wouldn’t talk to him.

And, when I told her two different judges said we can’t communicate, she asked if I was telling the truth. I told her I never lie to her. And that I have it in writing.

“Do you want me to show you?” I asked her.

She nodded. But, thankfully, we never got that far. She ate and showered and finished homework and went to bed feeling okay. I pulled her out of it. Because, she was torn. In a heartbreaking way.

And now I have all of my papers ready. I printed them at the office, asking a co-worker to stand guard as they came off the copy machine so they wouldn’t get mixed in with random invoices or someone’s 350-page print job.

“I’m your muscle,” she said, which made me laugh.

And after that day, I needed it. The laugh. And a little muscle. But mine were getting stronger every day.