My mom is a chronic pain patient. There is a lot to her story that maybe I will go into some other day. She takes all kinds of medications to help her live with her pain. The past few years, she has started texting my sister and I things that don’t make sense, late at night. Sometimes it is an elaborate plan to take my kids on a trip that she physically wouldn’t be able to do. Sometimes it’s chastising me and my sister for not visiting enough. It’s always after 10pm and always something that makes no sense. If I respond when I see the text the next day, my response is ignored. She pretends the whole thing never happened.
So it wasn’t a huge surprise that my mom texted me an elaborate escape plan late Thursday night. Telling me how I should pack up and run to safety. Saying she would see me this weekend. Making it sound like we had arranged plans when we had not. But it was surprising that she included my husband on this text chain.
This combined with everything else going on in the world was too much for his fragile psyche to handle. And he kind of lost it Friday morning. I explained that my mom was just texting under the influence of drugs and it was nonsense but it made him scared that we would leave the state. And fear sparks his anger. He screamed at the dogs for barking as neighbors walked by. I don’t mean he shouted for them to stop. I mean with the full force and volume of his voice screamed “SHUT UP!” at the barking dogs. This scared my son and I who were in the same room. My son started to cry. My husband didn’t notice anyone else. My daughter ran downstairs because she assumed he was yelling at me and she thought it was her job to save me.
We were all frozen and huddled together on the couch. He then moved a chair to the back window and sat looking out at the yard. Then sobbed uncontrollably. Shaking, loud. Sobbing with the full intensity of profound loss. He sobbed for maybe 3 minutes but it seemed like a long time when we were waiting to see if this was the end of the rage or the beginning. Then he wiped his eyes and left. I finally exhaled.
The kids said they were ok and we snuggled a while longer. His phone location showed he was hiking. Which at least gave us an hour without having to worry. I packed a few days of clothes for the kids and I. Packed my journals, my knitting, my books. Packed the kids school bags so everything could be quickly grabbed in an emergency. I tried to open his gun safe, to see if he took his handgun with him or if it was at home. I couldn’t open the safe so I hid it. There was something inside but I was unable to tell if it was ammunition or the gun. I texted friends and asked if I was crazy. Many encouraged me to leave immediately. But I am hesitant. I think if I leave, that will make his behavior even crazier? It will be more upsetting to the kids if we just run out of the house?
And he hasn’t, yet, hurt us. He is verbally abusive, yes. Usually only to me. He is unpredictable, yes. Which puts everyone on edge. But I also know after an inappropriate outburst like that, even while he defends his actions, he tries to be extra nice to show he is a “good guy.” I am no longer fooled, but it does mean that there is a period of can after the storm and he likely won’t be angry when he returns.
I texted him after I was packed. I told him that his yelling made us feel unsafe. And if he could not keep his actions under control, I was leaving and taking the kids out of state, to my parents’. Meanwhile, I texted my mom and told her I know that was an accident but you made my situation worse by texting him too. Please put your phone in a drawer in the kitchen before bed so this doesn’t happen again! I talked to my dad about her behavior but he says, “she’ll just be mad if I confront her about it.” He refused to take responsibility for her nor encourage her to take responsibility for herself. They want to help but they are very unhelpful.
The kids and I spent the day on eggshells. It was a gorgeous day. My daughter and I took the dogs on a long walk. Our suburban neighborhood looks like something out of the Twilight Zone. Families of 4-6 people, some with dogs, walking together everywhere. Some in the middle of the streets to maintain six feet away from the other walking families. We saw friends and shouted greetings and conversations from six feet away. Wild times.
Around 2pm my husband announced that he signed up for a voluntary leave from work. This means he doesn’t have to go to work and is also not paid. He thinks this is great because he won’t have to go to work for the next six weeks. I am not thrilled because he is normally the source of most of our income and he did not discuss this with me at all. If he’s not working, he can’t refinance the house. I can’t get my own place. I can’t move out. He says he did this to “protect the family.” But I am sure it is a cowardly act to trap me into staying in the house with him longer. I took my daughter to Target.
He’s texting me “Who has anger issues now?” because I am fuming that he would do this without even checking with me. He says he will collect unemployment $700/week, which is about 2/3 his salary. That seems too high. But also, I’ve collected unemployment. (I was pregnant and a flight attendant and after 26 weeks I was not allowed to fly per company policy.) You have to call in. You have to call back every week. In normal, healthy economic times it took me hours to do this in order to get paid. He doesn’t even have enough patience to figure out how to call in sick without throwing his phone. He won’t be able to do this! He’ll expect me to do the work for him, and I won’t!
He doesn’t understand that not telling your spouse, even if we are separating soon, about a major financial decision is a legitimate reason for me to be mad! While the dogs barking is not a reason to be mad! He sees no difference. And I had to leave because he cannot discuss things. We stayed out for 2 hours waiting in an extremely long car wash line. My daughter learned to pump gas.
When we got home I explained how he should have discussed this with me. How will we pay our bills? How is he going to support himself when I move out? He says “don’t we have savings?” Yes. Savings to use to pay the taxes on this house. Savings to use to buy furniture for my new place. We don’t have savings to spend on food because you don’t feel like going to work. So he says, “fine, I’ll take it out.” Still, no discussion. I am not okay with that. Then if he gets sick he will say I forced him to go to work. He’s like fine I’ll put it back in. Still no discussion! It’s maddening! I told him he can do whatever he wants but he should understand that half the savings is his and half is mine. That disability takes several weeks to arrive. And he shouldn’t be surprised when he has spent all the savings making up for his lack of income. He says he understands. But I bet you $100 he will blame me when there is no savings.
So he is never looking out for me but I am always trying to do what is fair for the both of us. And I need to leave as soon as I can. My dad says he can give me a down payment for a new house but realtors are closed. Can they sell homes? If I leave would he ever refinance the house or would he try to just live there, never giving me my equity back? Would I be screwed?
The courts are closed, we can’t file divorce. The lawyer-mediator didn’t realize that I had sent them all the required documentation so they were just sitting there waiting and doing nothing on our case. It seems like everything that could be going wrong, is.
As predicted, my husband is playing extra nice. I have been sleeping in my daughter’s room and since his yelling at the dogs, he has been bringing me tea in bed every morning. He has been running to McDonalds to get breakfast sandwiches. I am not fooled. It is just a matter of time before he explodes again. But at least it is a break from the stress that his instability brings. Maybe if he is not anxious about getting the virus he will be easier to live with.
Today I need to go through my finances again and decide if I will rent an apartment (which is expensive) or buy a house. Should I wait for my equity as a down payment or take the cash my dad is offering? Maybe these choices don’t really matter. Maybe all that matters is that I leave so I can find some peace?
I got up at 2am to use the bathroom. I had 6 messages from my mom, including one blank audio message. She sent them at midnight. She was begging me to call a shelter and leave my house immediately. ??? What the fuck. I know this is news for her but I have been living with my husband’s anger for almost 20 years. While I recognize it is emotional and verbal abuse, he doesn’t hit me. I hid the gun. Yes, he has obvious mental health problems but he won’t get help. My life is not in danger. I am not ripping my kids from their home to go to a dirty shelter in the middle of a pandemic! And why am I explaining logically because she obviously texted me while on drugs. After just telling me the day before that she wouldn’t text. That she would put her phone away. What if I was in a more dangerous situation? Her actions could have gotten me killed!
On top of the escape plan she was mad that I told my dad that she accidentally texted my husband. Am I the one with mental health problems? It’s so hard to tell. No one is acting logically. She said he was mad and I shouldn’t have told him. If she doesn’t want me to tell him then she needs to stop texting at night when she is on drugs. She responded this morning “FINE!!! I won’t ever text u!” Honestly, she is the least of my worries today.
Then my dad texts, want to FaceTime? Sure! *sarcasm* I’m stuck in my house with my soon-to-be-ex-husband while my mom is calling domestic violence shelters but let’s all get on FaceTime and have a nice chat. Am I the only one who sees this is weird?
I hope that this pandemic will be over soon and I can find peace. I would just like a quiet peaceful life. I think it is worth asking myself, what am I doing that is preventing a peaceful life. Identify those things, and work to make changes. That’s why I don’t see my parents often. That is why I am leaving my husband. I just want to find some peace.
And this morning I have a sore throat! Please spare me corona. Unfortunately, when I have previously been hospitalized for my own bad health, I have found staying in the hospital to be amazing. Relaxing and stress-free. It is peaceful. But I don’t want to be that sick. I don’t want to scare the kids. I need to be here for them.
Om shanti, shanti, shanti. Thank you mom, for helping me to practice. Thank you corona, for helping me to practice. Thank you husband, for helping me to practice. Everything is temporary. Everything changes. Things will not stay like this forever. The only thing constant is change.
*note* I know that both my mom and husband have mental health problems. And I have done everything I can to encourage them both to seek help for anxiety, depression, and counseling for childhood trauma. Both deny they have any problems and indeed blame me for their behaviors. My mom today, instead of seeing the problem was she texted my husband her secret plan for my escape, she thinks the problem is that I told my dad about it. My husband instead of seeing the problem is he made a major financial decision effecting us both, he sees the problem as I value money over his health. I don’t want him sick! But I also don’t appreciate, “surprise! I quit my job!” when he has no financial plan about how that will work. Mental health issues are diseases that people need to seek treatment for. At the same time, I am not willing to sacrifice my quality of life forever for people who aren’t interested in introspection or improving their own mental health. So, I apologize if any of my descriptions here seem less than compassionate towards people with mental health problems. I do have compassion, which is why I still talk to my mom and why I have stayed with my husband for so long. It is difficult to draw the line of when do I give up and work on my life without you because you aren’t willing to work on your own life? It has taken me a long time to get to this point. And how I wish I arrived here last year so I could be done with it all and locked in my own peaceful home away from the drama! But that is not my reality. So I am just doing the best I can today.
Peace and Love -Lyn