Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.
A friend of mine, a great many years ago, once told me, “Jesus Fuck, Becks, can you ever catch a break?”
I don’t believe he was being malicious – it was more a statement of fact than anything else – so I’m certain I simply nodded and smiled, made an off-color joke to distract us both from what would have been a decidedly awkward conversation. There’s very few places one can take a conversation like that without bursting into tears.
I’ve had others echo the same sentiments through the years (and I have met others like me, which makes me believe that I am, at the very least, not alone. If I have done anything good in my life, it is to have created a space with that simple pretext: we are none of us alone; we are all of us connected); my mother, at one point, said, “you can never learn anything the easy way – I feel for you.”
I’ve been so accustomed to these storms, that, most of the time, I can barely enjoy a moment’s peace without waiting for another to touch down, leaving me breathless and shaking, wondering what I’d done in a past life to deserve this. Because come, they always do. Most are (apologies to Douglas Adams) simply a series of unfortunate events strung together in time:
I couldn’t have a single miscarriage; no. I had to have two, back-to-back. When I finally got pregnant again, I immediately fell down the stairs and broke some of the small bones in my feet, which meant that not only could I only wave a bottle of Tylenol near my foot for pain, I then began bleeding, my progesterone levels dangerously low, which meant activity restrictions and the fear that this would be a third consecutive miscarriage. I spent the rest of my pregnancy in Das Boot, chasing after a toddler and house-breaking a puppy who liked to eat poo and then barf it up on the carpet, praying for the safe arrival of my daughter to be safe. She was born with a previously undiagnosed neural tube defect, an encephalocele, and had to go in for neurosurgery at the might age of three weeks. I developed PTSD after experiencing a nervous breakdown, and lost my (at the time) best friend in the world.
In the face of life, being, as my father always told me as I raged against this or that as a small child, unfair, I’ve learned to carry on, hold my breath and brace myself for the next storm, only occasionally finding the moment’s peace that allows me connection to the rest of the world. They’ll hit me, I know, these storms, knock me off my feet, leave me breathless, send me overboard; the desperation to find something – anything – in the murky chaos of the unknown, to hold tightly onto, until, once again, I can be reeled in, once again looking for my peace.
Life, I’ve begun to understand only recently, is much more about the storms than the peace they attempt to overwhelm.
These storms will always lurk down dark corners, or in the middle of a sunshine-filled day – the type of day that like nothing, ever, could go wrong – always present, always lurking, always ready to, once again, send me flying overboard, once again, looking for any way to get back on deck.
Only this time, I’m done with the notion of clinging for dear life to anything; anyone. Not out of bitterness; no. This time, there will be no one to save me; I’m not – never have been – “little girl lost,” and I don’t need a white knight swooping in to make me whole, to save my life.
It’s time to live life on my terms for the first time. Ever.
The storms won’t cease, and maybe that’s okay; maybe this is simply my lot in life, and instead of fearing these ever-lurking storms, I’m going to embrace them, just as I’ll embrace the few moments of peace and clarity I may have. The cracks, after all, are how the light gets in.
In the past week, I’ve been knocked out, knocked down, faced with one of the biggest storms I’ve (thus far) known, and you know what? My eyes may be blacked and blue, my heart shattered and healing, and yet, in spite of it all, still I remain standing.
It’s what I do.
It’s what I will always do.
And rather than rage at the things that are unfair, the breaks I haven’t caught, the things that will no longer be, I will, instead, embrace these cracks. For it is through these cracks, that even in the darkest of the nights, when my soul feels empty and hollow, that the light – my light – gets in.
I’d known that we had problems well before The Guy (formerly) On My Couch moved in – problems created by the both of us – and once he moved out, Dave had transformed into a caring and sweet person; the one I’d fallen in love with so many years ago. While I didn’t exactly hope that we’d be dancing through fields of sunflowers or poppies to the tune of “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World,” I’d hoped we could reconcile our differences and come back to the table once I’d finished figuring myself out and becoming well again.
I wasn’t necessarily certain what that would look like, only that perhaps, I’d be able to call him my friend, co-parent our children, and work out a solution that would make us both happier. I had no illusions that our life would somehow magically be perfect again, only that I’d be happy to reevaluate where we both stood.
I said yesterday – and meant it – that no one plans to get divorced. I certainly never expected that I would be sitting here, wondering how I’d manage to afford living alone, whether or not I could truly make enough money blogging to support myself (so that I can get out of an environment that has proven to be toxic to me), wondering how just how badly all of this will fuck up my poor, sweet, innocent babies. Any one of those conundrums are not particularly easy to solve, and having them suddenly thrust into the limelight while I was at my absolute worst was not, perhaps, the most ideal of situations.
Having a nervous breakdown, I’d been informed, was a time in which I had to focus upon me – and me alone – and work toward recovery. That, being something I’d not done before in conceivable history, and something I was attempting to try and understand.
This whole divorce-thing threw a wrench into the whole damn thing. I couldn’t be getting better if I was attempting to secure my financial stability, my well-being, and focus on recovery and getting healthy.
I honestly don’t where this will take me.
I hope to get back to writing and working on my blog, feeling that the curtain of secrecy is now lifted helps a lot – it’s impossible for me to feel like I have this space – my space – and be unable to truly share what’s going on in my life. I hope that I’ll have some time to really work on my book. I’m hoping to focus on the things I can do rather than all the intangibles I cannot. Knowing that two of the biggest pillars of support in my life have – in one short week – have chosen not to stand by me, well, that’s not exactly the way I’d expected to spend my recovery and my birthday.
I will take each day as it comes – each second, if I have to – and I will work toward rebuilding.
Because I must, once again, rebuild.
I’m just so weary; so, very weary.
And I wonder what it’s gonna take.
My heart’s like an open book,
For the whole world to read.
Sometimes, nothing keeps me together
At the seams.
I’d been sitting there, on the edge on my couch, staring out into the cold, January night, where daylight appears to last ten minutes, the icicles shimmering happily in the streetlights, occasionally flipping through a trashy magazine, wondering when bone-skinny got to be the new black.
I finally stopping flipping through the pages and began to read when I got to the article wherein Giuliana Rancic was discussing her breast cancer (NOW you know how long ago this was), because, well, we Chicago girls stick together (Norrrtth SIIIIIIIIIIIIDE!). In the article, she discussed the treatment of her cancer, and how she’d been vacillating between one option and another.
The way she told the story, her husband, Bill, (North SIIIIIIDDDDDEEEE!) sat down and held her as he told her that she had to do what offered her the best chances at recovery and that he would be by her side, every step of the way; that he loved her and would love her no matter what.
That normally sweet sentiment would generally have one of two effects upon me:
Instead, I found myself weeping, alone, on a cold January night.
I wept, not for Giuliana Rancic, or her sweet husband, Bill, but for what might have been. I’d known for some time that Dave no longer loved me – it’s not the sort of sentiment like, “Hey honey, can you pick up some honey for my tea on your way home from work?” that you can forget. Those are words that cannot be unsaid and unheard, no matter how you try. And I did try, believe me, I did.
I remember my marriage counseling class, given by the church we were to be married in. The couples, we all sat around a long chipped table, covered in that hideous brown fake wood veneer, and I tried my hardest not to scribble out a “Becky Rules!” on an area in front of me that someone before me had peeled away the plastic covering, leaving an open white space that the former bad-ass I’d once been longed to fill.
I smiled about the serendipity of it all – I’d spent many years in that room as a child, practicing for this youth orchestra or that, and now, it felt I’d come full-circle, sitting there with my husband-to-be, listening to a dour old lady talk to us about conflict resolution, communication techniques, as well as filling out a personality inventory (which, for the record, gave me absolutely no insights into myself or Daver, it simply told me what I’d already known). I walked out of there, hand-in-hand with my fiance, our foot-falls echoing the hallways of the church, practically bouncing with smug superiority: I’d beaten the odds, gone from a single mother eking her way through nursing school, to having graduated with some variation of cum laude and now I was going to be a married lady. It wasn’t my life as I’d expected it, but here I was, and I was happy.
“Pshaw,” I remarked to Dave at one point, my superiority flag flying high. “WE won’t get divorced.” Like anyone steps up to the alter with the intention of later stepping up to a judge, saying, “Irreconcilable differences, Your Honor.”
But no. I was so fucking smug about it – I’d finally found the right man, a great father for my son, what could go wrong? He’d seen me at my worst – and I his, what more was there? Divorce happens to *waves hand* OTHER PEOPLE. Not to people like us.
Except here I was, sobbing stupidly into my People magazine, light years from where that smug 2o-something once stood, realizing that, not only does divorce happen to people like me, it has happened to us. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but I knew it was coming. Too many words unsaid or unheard, a chasm as wide as Soldier Field now separating us, there was nothing left to be done.
We’d spent some time in couple’s counseling (which came about after this), in which I learned that Dave had been carrying a backpack full of resentments toward me regarding things that had happened so many years before – those resentments led him to lash out at me, emotionally withdraw, clearly unsure of what to do with me. At one point he told me, “I can’t deal with your problems.” Whenever I’d bring up things like, “my PTSD acting up,” he’d sigh a semi-disgusted sigh; the sort that said (without words), “Another problem? Jesus fuck, woman.”
I eventually stopped telling him.
I felt weak. I felt like having “problems” meant that I was a miserable excuse for a human being – my problems clearly the sign of a shitty character. Who could love someone like that? Someone like me?
And, he’d asked me, once we were separated, yet living under the same roof, after I’d written this, to not speak of our separation, so that we could go it alone. I respected it. Protecting him and trying to pretend that my life hadn’t been drastically altered, however, came with some unexpected side effects: I lost my voice. No longer could I pour whatever was into my heart onto a keyboard. No longer could I tell the world how I’d ached and cried or laughed and smiled. It all had to be said through a fake filter – written several steps removed from my actual life.
Losing my words took a toll far greater than I’d expected. I felt I was living a double life: the one I presented to the world, and my real life; the space in which things, well, they weren’t so funny.
It finally came to a boiling point last night.
The night before, I’d shared my goals for recovery, my plans for the future, my hopes and ambitions, as I sobbed into my blankie. He informed me of the things he needed, and mentioned that nowhere in my soliloquy had I mentioned “staying at home with the kids” or “keeping a clean house,” which prompted the suggestion that “perhaps it would be better for my recovery for me to move out.”
(blink, blink, blink)
Not being particularly rash, or prone to throwing things around the room, I instead thought about that offer.
I mulled it over all night and the following day (yesterday): Could I afford moving out? Could I (with my migraines) manage to go back to work? Would I go on public aid? Would I have insurance? Where could I live? What would I do? Why would now be the time to think about these things if I was (per the both of us) supposed to be focusing on my recovery?
I sat down last night and told Dave that after thinking it all through, I was planning to move out. I wasn’t sure where, I wasn’t sure if I could afford it, but I’d be moving out, getting my head straight, and returning to be with my children. He offered to sign all the divorce papers so that I’d get some alimony.
As for me? I just wanted – and still want – to get better. To feel safe, loved, respected. To work on myself and begin the road to recovery. I wanted the time to heal and grow and make the right choices for myself. To not see my failures played out upon the features of Dave’s face every time I turned around.
Where that will take me? I don’t know.
Nervous Breakdown: 4
Aunt Becky: 0
And that, my dear friends is the way my marriage has ended – not with a bang, but a whimper.