Not the Guy I Married

a house is not a home

He had served as my best friend, lover, confidant and surrogate family member for all those years. We had uprooted and moved to three very different states. We survived Louisiana, unemployment, infertility, home-buying and the deaths of our respective parents. Our beloved handicapped cat had died in my arms on our frantic way to the emergency vet. He was everything good in my life.

That is, for a while. One night, I was driving home from work, dead on my feet from the overtime. He was unemployed, again, and still spending money, freely. On that night, our argument ended in an episode of domestic violence. On that evening, a little unseen door in my heart slammed shut.

What a shock to every cell in my body. It took a long time for my mind to come to terms with it. I had barricaded myself in the guest room and half-slept horribly, with disturbing dreams. Somehow, I had the strength and foresight to take a photo of the damage in the house. I also took my camera to work and asked my female supervisor to photograph my bruises. Of course, he fixed the huge hole in the wall, while I was at work.

The therapist told me to have the police come and remove him from our home. Some of my friends advised me to give him another chance. A person I had considered to be a really good friend said that she could not "take sides". He had phoned her earlier and told her version. She became my ex-friend, Sarah.

The Divorce ensued. He played, as usual, the "Good Guy", the "Healthy One". In the settlement, he asked for everything worthwhile. The only man I have ever known who even wanted the wedding gifts. He got much more money than I, and he got the house..... the house with its three years of improvements.

There was a long, lonely episode of feeling like a "bad" dog, something less than human. Not only a thing undesirable, but something you were allowed to harm, with impunity. For some time, I jumped at every sound on dark streets. Had to leave door open when repairmen arrived at my new condo. Took up dancing, then quit, due to the lack of a partner. I got fat.

Four years later, I received an email from him, describing his sudden seizure and resulting brain surgery. An MRI photo of his tumor was attached. No one knew how long the mass had been in his fore brain. Now, he had lost so much work and money that he may loose the house. He has debilitating depression and anxiety.

I feel awful for him. I give him money and help with some of the yard work. I even enter The House. Try not to stare at The Wall. We go for dinner, for which I agree to pay. He moans endlessly about his appointments with various doctors, his moods, his fear of losing The House. He speaks of his new girlfriend.

I glance at my watch. Still time to make tonight's episode of "Gray's Anatomy". I fake an important upcoming phone call to excuse myself. I throw a twenty dollar bill on the table and rush out. The air feels cool and true. My very own little home awaits. I am free.

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