Whoever she is

Whoever she is

He married you. Be that girl. Remind him. 

I bent over, let my head hang, tousled my own hair to add some volume, flipped back up to face the mirror. Okay, okay. Slap and pinch my own cheeks a little. 

Demetrius told me he wanted to talk to me. That’s progress, right? He took some stuff and left and hadn’t faced me in a little over two weeks. Wanted to talk to me. That’s good. Good. I want to talk to you to. 

Some life events shouldn’t occur over texts, you know? I’d never get married through texts. Just look me in the eyes. Just remember. Me. It’s me. I’m a person you know well. Not perfect, but a good person. 

Talk. Yeah, let’s talk. 

I hadn’t been eating much. Food didn’t taste good without him. I pulled and tugged on my short stretchy black dress. It fit well, especially now. Butt looks good. Flat tummy again. Pull the girls up. Hip bones prominent. I didn’t have love handles anymore. Smooth it everywhere. Miss this?

Smile. Just smile and be at peace. Don’t cry. Don’t be mad. Don’t give him any reason to feel good about his decisions these two weeks. Remind him why he loves you, loves being home with you. But…not too excited. Just be normal.

 I hear his truck. My heart is pounding. What…what would I be doing right now? I had told the girls to go to their rooms because he was coming over to talk. 

I flopped on the couch and clicked the TV on. I would never be sitting here watching TV alone, but…I didn’t know how else to stage myself.

I hear the door in the back open, hear him climb the stairs. Such a simple sequence of events that you get used to. You just assume a husband will continue to come home. Until…he stops. You don’t know how that feels until…you know how that feels. And you feel it. And you feel it.

“Hey!” I clicked the tv off and hopped up to give him a hug. I got the lean-in, awkward back pat. The we-don’t-know-each-other, quickly brush my arms off him, step back. 

Ew, gross. I don’t want this kind of hug either. Don’t flatter yourself. 

“Hey. I only came for one reason. I just need you to look over these papers and make sure everything is correct. I went to see my lawyer on my lunch break.” His voice sounds apologetic. Don’t pity me, asshole. Your lawyer? You don’t have a lawyer. I take the papers. No, Emily don’t be mad. Just be pretty and sweet. 

I don’t really remember reading them. But somehow your eyes know facts that your brain can’t think. 

“That’s not the day we separated. You left on a Monday. It was Sept 22.” My mouth said words. 

We, in fact, didn’t separate. You left me. That’s how it went. I even wrapped myself around you begging you not to. Like that. I made you carry me across the house and peel me off of you. Like that. That’s not on your paper here. 

“Okay. Well I can have my lawyer fix that tomorrow when I file. I was just going to give you this copy to look over.” Stop saying that. Your lawyer. Your lawyer can’t fix…anything. 

You don’t want to talk to me. You want to hand me words on paper. I have words too. And this paper…says nothing to me about my life, my story.

“Tomorrow? No, Demetrius. Not tomorrow. Tomorrow is October 7. Tomorrow is Clara’s first birthday. Go any other day. Please.” I remember delivering her in this house one year ago exactly. Our precious Clara, half Demetrius and half me. Not tomorrow. 

“It’s not the date it will be final, Emily. It’s just the day I’m filing.” Don’t attempt to placate me. Angry or pathetic…I guess those are my only two mood choices. Breeeathe. 

And I am back to–this doesn’t add up. My faults, our arguments…none of it is that bad. I can’t be sweet. But I can be bold. I’m so tired of being pathetic. I am a glowing sun. No more rain. 

“Look at me.” He can’t. “No, Demetrius. I’m serious. Look at me.” There is no courage in his eyes. I know. I can tell. I know. I know. I die a little inside. I know. 

“What?” He raises his eyebrows, lowers his eyes, his eyes can’t look. He knows I know. 

“You do what you have to do. But I do have a few things to say to you, and the least you can do is look your wife in the eye and hear them.” I am a lot of things. But not a coward. To a fault, I am full of courage, full of it. He looks.

“Whoever she is, Demetrius. Whoever she is…she doesn’t love you. She is destruction. You need to hear that. You need to know it. That’s what you are choosing–to leave love for…not love. You are choosing destruction.” He is visibly uncomfortable. I am pouring acid in his ear. 

“Emily, there’s no one-”

“Stop. Just…save your lies. Hear me out.” I am Menelaus. Bring me Paris. Let’s see that fight. 

“Emily, I’m not going to sit here and listen to these ridiculous accusations.” Liar words.

“Would she die for you? Because I would. I wouldn’t even hesitate to save you instead of myself. Push you to safety and get hit by a car for you. Take a bullet. You know I would.” I shake my head. I’m not good with defeat.

His eyes show some pain, and I have the smallest glimmer of hope. His heart isn’t completely dead to me. I just can’t really reach it. I would say anything to reach it again. He just wants away from me. I am talking under water. More like under mud. 

“We don’t have to do this. Maybe life with me is just a little too real. But she’s not real. Whatever you have with her. It’s exciting and it’s fun. But…it’s not real. I’m real. Me. This marriage is real. You need a spotlight shone on this. Secrets seem so thrilling in the dark. Bring them out in the light, and you just might see them for what they are.” He didn’t care. 

He just sat there. With his papers.

  
 

Right after Clara was born at home.
  
Clara, a few days old
  
Clara, the day before her first birthday
  
 

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Broken

Broken

I envisioned my house exploding. I will teach myself how to do many things, but I won’t mess with electricity or natural gas.

“Emily, I seriously don’t mind to come fix that natural gas leak on your water heater. But I know you have your girls tonight, so I don’t want you to feel like you have to introduce me before you’re ready to do that.” My daughters would love Keith. But maybe he was right…was it too soon? What’s the rule on that?

Our friend Sharon had told him to text me last Monday, so we had only known each other a little over a week now. We had an easy and natural and immediate connection. I can’t remember a single moment of feeling awkward or nervous. I had decided I was fine to be a single mom forever if that’s what I needed to do. But then…Keith. 

The empty shoes beside me were huge. Four daughters and an old house. I wouldn’t settle for a good time for me. All or nothing, and who could take on this much? Don’t waste my time. I’m busy. I wasn’t concerned about myself. My days were so busy, always something to do for someone. 

Nights were a harder adjustment. Life got way too quiet. Who can sleep with so much quiet? There was no one in my bed to be bothered by my freezing cold toes. I had to remember to lock the doors. That had never been my job. I never remembered to do it on the way to bed. I always had to get up and go do it a few hours later. Might as well get up and do it, not like I was sleeping anyway. I always shudder a little as I lock it. 

“No, no. It’s not that, Keith. I’d love to introduce them to you. I just…I didn’t tell you about the leak so that you would offer to help me. I’m not like that. I will figure it out. I already called a plumber and left a message.” To be completely honest, I was thinking to myself–does he really know how to do this? Don’t most people just call experts for the dangerous stuff?

“Okay. I just want you to know that I’m willing to help. And I hate to see you pay a ton for someone to do something that I can do for you.” Hmm, he sounded confident that he could do it. But I don’t know…I couldn’t seem to stop seeing my house exploding in my mind. Did he just want to impress me? 

“My house is old, and if something goes wrong–and with repairs here…it usually does–then I can rely on the plumber to deal with the extra issues until it’s all working properly.” I don’t need a hero. I have to learn to be my own hero. 

“Well just don’t let him overcharge you.” I loved his voice. I loved that he often called instead of texting. I loved that he didn’t play any games or make me guess if he was interested. I’m too old for that crap.

“I don’t know what a fair price would be.” I had to let the plumber do this. Besides, I couldn’t let him meet my girls already; I hadn’t even known him for two weeks.

“It shouldn’t cost more than $30-40 for all the parts you need. It shouldn’t take him more than an hour…maybe $40-50 in labor. He should give you a free estimate, but don’t pay more than $100. Let me know what he says.” Keith was actually at Lowe’s when he called, but I didn’t know that. 

________________________________

I tried to pullstart the mower for an hour. I Googled it. It wouldn’t start. Or I was just doing it all wrong. I’m not helpless. I can figure this out. And as soon as I finish crying, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. 

Sometimes you call Dad.

“Please just come over and teach me to start this stupid thing. I want to know how. I hate feeling scared and helpless about something so dumb.” It was a beautiful day. I closed my eyes and let the sun warm my face and dry my tears. 

It was probably harder on Dad than it was on me. I’m sure he just wanted to mow it for me. I’m sure he didn’t want to watch me mow and cry. But I made him let me do it for myself while he watched and gave occasional pointers. Lean it like this to start it. When it makes that noise, let go of the self-propel lever so it won’t get bogged down.

“I’m proud of you, Em. The tough get going.” Sometimes you look at your daughter, and it doesn’t matter how old she’s gotten, all you can see is your little girl. 

“Thanks Dad.” I was proud of myself too. I wasn’t a damsel in distress. I don’t even think I’m a damsel. I think damsels are fancy. I’m not fancy. But I’m pretty sure I’m not tough either. Crying while I work, thinking I’m too pretty to mow. 

The grass was long; the yard was big. Demetrius said he was going to come mow it yesterday. He didn’t. He had been staying at his mom’s. 

It had to be done today or it wouldn’t get done for another week. I texted him. No response. Maybe he thought I was just trying to come up with ways to get him back home. Maybe I was. 

I know why people pay other people to mow. It sucks. But I learned. Knowledge is wealth that no one can take away from you. Maybe I don’t have money, but I have my brain. 

My great-grandmother always ate every bit of gristle and meat off a chicken bone. GG would say, “Poor people got poor ways.” I owned the mower. It made sense for me to learn to use it. 

A few weeks later I found a hotel receipt with that date. Oh. Hm. Guess you weren’t at your mom’s while I was learning to mow. 

I don’t wish it was me. I don’t want to be her. I’ve been her. I like being this version of me. 

____________________________

I called my 3 older girls to the kitchen. Margaret was 13; Hazel was 11; Audrey was 9. I was warming up the leftover spaghetti and meatballs I had made the night before. Keith had come over while they weren’t home, and I cooked for him.

Clara, 16 months, had been dropped back home at 8pm, so she was the only one who met Keith. She piled her toys on him one at a time. This is code for–my toddler likes you.

“Is it too soon for y’all to meet Keith? He might come over again tonight to help me fix the water heater.” I knew what they’d say. I guess that’s why I asked. Audrey had already gotten mad at me that Clara met him before them.

“It’s not too soon! Tell him to come over!” I don’t even remember who said it. Probably all three. 

“Okay! Finish heating this stuff up. Oh and watch Clara for a few minutes.” They all three fell over themselves to take over for me. I rushed downstairs to my room. 

I called him back. 

“Do you know what tools and supplies I would need to buy? I’ll let you fix it. But well…I mean you can walk me through every step, but I want to do it.” I wonder if he could tell in my voice that this was the point of no return for me. I was smitten. 

“I’ve been at Lowe’s this whole time figuring out what supplies we will need. I own all the tools already. I’ll be right over.” He sounds a little smitten himself. And he’s so cute. Who owns that many tools?

I looked in the mirror. I should change my clothes. Do I have time? What’s a good, not too obviously nice…repair-stuff kind of outfit? No. Just leave this on. It will look obvious. I should run a brush through my hair. Should I make something else since he ate spaghetti with me last night? I should tell the girls to clean up. Nah.

This is me. This is how I dress at home. These are my girls. This is my old house. We eat leftovers. Our life is messy. Welcome. 

We fixed it together. I remember a few things that I learned, but I could never have done it without Keith, and I couldn’t fix it without him now either. 

And I don’t want to. I never want to do life without Keith. 

Closet

Closet

His side of the closet was nearly empty. I arranged the few things that were left on the clothes bar to try to make it look full again. 

“I don’t know what to do, Wendy,” How many times a day had I called her crying in the past week. “I can’t stand leaving the house for a few hours, so he can come and rip my heart out a little at a time.”

What would be gone this time when I returned? I would burst back into the house bravely to scan it over quickly. What’s missing now? But I didn’t always figure it out. Usually I would notice later, in a weaker moment–some DVDs, his protein, more shoes, a large stack of diapers. 

I guess he couldn’t face me. Maybe that was best since I couldn’t hold myself together anyway. But it felt so much more cruel. I am your wife. When did I become your enemy?

“Just pray and breathe and stay calm, Emily.”

“Should I just spend my time boxing up all his things, so I don’t have to watch them disappear slowly? Would that hurt less?”

“Is that the message you want to send?”

“No. It’s not.” I didn’t want him to think I wanted him gone. I wanted him to stay. “…so, should I tape everything down with duct tape?”

“Hold on to it, and just pray.” We got off the phone. 

I wrapped my arms around his remaining shirts. Oh, Demetrius, the clothes you don’t wear, they are soaked with my tears and prayers. 

Clara was playing on the floor with a photo of Mommy and Daddy, actually the first photo we ever took together. I took a quick snapshot of her as she stared up at me concerned. I scooped her up and hugged her. 

“Everything is okay, baby.” I don’t have the option to fall apart. 

God, please help me through this, I am not strong enough. Please fast forward my life 6 months from this moment. I don’t want to feel every second. 

I sprayed my perfume on his clothes. Held them. Prayed. Maybe you won’t face me, fine. Then you can smell me. 

How did the heart of my husband become frozen, God? I grabbed onto his warm arms in this very bedroom, gave birth to his daughter in that very bathtub. How? And why? Which one is the real Demetrius?

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.” (Christine Caine)

Liebster Award Nomination

Liebster Award Nomination

I want to sincerely thank A Mother of All Trades for nominating me for my very first Liebster Award. Take some time to check out her blog using the hyperlink.

I googled this award to try to learn a little more about it, as I’m incredibly new to the blogging world. Very honored, and thank you again, Jennifer.

“‘Liebster’ is a German word meaning beloved or dearest. In the blogging world, the Liebster Award is online recognition given by bloggers to other new bloggers for enjoying or valuing their work. It is meant to highlight and credit favorite new up and coming blogs within our writing community.”

(Jan 20, 2016 jentheredonethat.com)

The ten questions she asked me are as follows:

1. What made you start blogging?

I feel like I have some decent stories to share.

2. What was the last movie you saw, and did you like it?

Daddy’s Home–yes, I liked it.


3. If you needed a pick-me-up, what song    would you turn on to cheer you up?

Different songs for different moods–

“This Woman’s Work” by Maxwell is a favorite, especially during pregnancy


4. What is one of your pet peeves?

Adults disrespecting children.


5. What are some things you’ve crossed off your bucket list so far?

Starting a blog! Ha! ;D


6. What is your favorite meal?

Any meal with all our kids; I don’t care what we are eating. 


7. If you could meet any blogger in real life, who would you choose?

I don’t know yet, honestly. 



8. What is your favorite childhood memory?

My parents coming to watch me cheer at football games. 

9. What do you dislike about blogging?

The technical aspects–html code, glitches, etc

10. If you were stuck on an island and could pick one person to be stuck with, who would you pick and why?

My husband Keith–he would get us off of there, and in the meantime, I’d be with my favorite person. 


My nominations are–

A Mother of All Trades

Sugar, Spice, Everything Nice

realmarklandry

I Do and Adieu

magster120

KcRambles

mommyoftwinjas

Jen Fabian

beautybeyondbones

omasramblingsword

Mosaic

Mosaic

“Who is it?” Nothing else made sense.

“What are you talking about? This has just been a long time coming. There isn’t someone else, Emily.” He avoided eye contact, inched toward the door. 

“You can tell me straight to my face, like a man. Or I can find out on my own. If you have any respect for me, you will tell me yourself, Demetrius. I may have made a million mistakes with Norman, but at least I had the decency to tell him the truth about you when I left.” There’s no honor among thieves. 

“There’s no one.” The most painful dichotomy–hearing words you wish were truth versus your heart-twisting in pain, your gut tightening in self-pity, your mind racing…knowing it’s all lies. 

“I’ve seen other women get obsessed in this position…combing through phone records, flipping out over every little thing. Just tell me upfront. That’s fair. That way I can begin the healing process and keep what dignity I have left in tact. I don’t want to put myself through the insanity of trying to figure it out. I don’t want to do that.” But I did it.

“Emily. There’s not someone else. Why can’t you just accept the fact that I’m done with you?”

“Because it doesn’t add up. Yeah we fight–that’s married life. I haven’t done anything so awful that I deserve to be left. For better or for worse, it’s a gamble. I guess you think you ended up with worse, but you took those odds.” I held Clara on my hip and followed him around as he packed things. None of this made sense. 

He was loading his tv and xbox into his truck. Did he just need a break from it all? This isn’t real. If I just sit home and pray and cry, it will all fix itself. If I don’t tell anyone, it isn’t really true. 

“Are you wearing your ring?” I tapped on the window of his truck. He rolled it down. 

“Let me see your left hand.” He held it up. No ring. “Why aren’t you wearing your ring?”

“Why would I?” I couldn’t see his eyes because he had sunglasses on. But I saw an unmistakeable flicker of a grin on the corners of his mouth. 

“I’m going to keep wearing mine.” I held up my left hand.  I stood there like a pathetic moron as he drove off. 

I don’t know you anymore. And the new you isn’t an improvement. Don’t be this person. You have a choice. 

________________________________

Your life is a delicate, exotic, intricately  blown-glass chandelier, hanging from a precarious thread over a cold, pristine marble floor. Sometimes someone will cut that thread, and walk away before it hits the floor. It may be someone who made you promises; it may be someone you laughed with and called a friend. Your spouse and one of your friends may cut it together, double betrayal. It will probably be someone you love dearly, passionately, truly. 

Some fools even cut the thread themselves. I’ve been the thread-cutting fool, and I’ve been the one left with the shards. 

Clean it up, box it up, throw it all away–these are all dignified ways to handle the shards of glass. People will politely look away long enough for you to sweep up your mess. Some will even murmur that maybe you should’ve made a rod iron chandelier in the first place. 

Under no circumstances should you ever sit and stare at the mess or try to organize it in piles of colors that make sense to you. People will assure you that’s a waste of your time and heart. But remember it’s YOUR mess. You can do what you want with the shards. You can slowly pick up each piece and create a mosaic if you want to.

This photo was taken in our driveway, on the day I asked about his ring. We don’t usually know the pain and stories behind a simple, beautiful photo.