Isolation with your abuser

I can hear rain on the window pane.

I can hear my dog breathing rapidly in her dream.

I unloaded the dishwasher. Twice.

I cooked and cleaned. Breakfast lunch and dinner.

The kids showered. We played spoons. We watched a movie. There were cuddles. Everyone is tucked in.

But you want me to stay.

When it only hurts me.

And I say no.

You say I am white trash. You say I am crazy. You mock therapy. Call me a drunk. A mean drunk.

I will enjoy this glass of wine.

Thank you for letting me practice compassion.

I text a friend.

Am I mean when I drink?

Never, she says. Silly. Happy. Joyous.

I will leave. I will get away. I will be free.

But today, I cower. Under his raging face. Hoping the children sleep. Hoping.

I am safe.

Thank you for the practice.

And I breathe.

Schedules for Predictability

Out “Break” Schedule
Our Viral Out”Break” Schedule

My kids have always wanted to know what we are doing tomorrow. What is the plan? As many have posted, we made a schedule for these no school/no activities days to make sure we don’t just all stare at a screen every waking minute. My son is calling these days off, “break,” so we are calling this our Out”Break” Schedule.

Last night we ate my version of Irish Boxty for St. Patrick’s Day. Potato pancakes, vegetables, chicken, gravy. My husband was tense. He’s anxious about being laid off from work or being put on an “on-call” schedule. I commented that he hadn’t ever been on-call for long. That was supposed to be supportive. I was saying, it won’t last. It will be ok. He freaked on me. Started yelling that he was on-call for a year and a half twenty-five years ago. Shouting that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I am to the point where, there is no point arguing with him. If he wants to rage and call me names when I am offering support, it just proves how incredibly broken he is. So I just read my book and waited for him to stop.

He keeps saying, about our lock-in, that it is awesome. He loves the family all together when we can’t leave. Is there something a little misplaced there?

I cleaned up dinner. He ran to the store to get ice cream for the kids. They actually had it! The kids ate ice cream then we cleaned up to walk the dogs. And this was a disaster. Our 13 year-old didn’t really want to come but we told her it wasn’t optional. She was grumbling and giving me grumpy looks. I was smiling at her for being such a teen. We came to a corner and my daughter and I crossed the street to the north while my husband and son continued walking west. By this time my daughter and I were laughing. Why did the guys go one way and we went the other? Why was she so grumpy? My husband incorrectly thought we were laughing at him. He shoved the dog leash he was holding at me and just turned around and left us. I asked for poop bags and he kept walking. The dog he had poops on every walk so we needed the bags!

He kept walking away from us with me behind him asking him to drop the bags. Please drop the bags! I’m in front of my house begging my spouse, who continues to say he loves me, to throw trash bags on the ground for me to pick up. This is what I’m begging for.

He dropped some on the driveway, after making us chase him all the way home. We picked them up and walked the dogs. I told the kids what I always tell them, dad is mean when he’s stressed but acting like that is not okay. The dogs had a good walk. We came home and he grilled my daughter “why were you laughing?” What a great way to make sure no one ever laughs again. “WHY WERE YOU LAUGHING?” before I even got upstairs he had redamaged everything I had repaired. I gathered some things and put them in the basement. The futon is the most uncomfortable bed I have ever slept on but I have to be away from him.

He sent me a text late last night “Sometime I wish you would just shut the fuck up and listen to what I’m going thru once in a while. Cause if you don’t know what you’re saying is true, you shouldn’t say it at all.” I responded with “goodnight.” I am listening, I am trying to be supportive, but he won’t let anyone in. He always assumes that people are mocking him. He can’t laugh at anything.

What if he loses his job? Oh well, life goes on. What if he goes back on-call, then be thankful for your job, life goes on. He doesn’t ever hold that sense that everything will be fine. He holds the opposite, nothing will be fine. He’s so freaking broken. And he won’t see a therapist. Any attempts I make at helping him see reality, are not welcomed.

Yesterday was Day 4 of our lock-in. Day 4! How can we keep this up for 2 full weeks? Likely it will be longer!

This morning, sitting in this little basement room with a stiff back from the crappy bed, I want to text him back. Show him how he got it all wrong yesterday but it won’t make a difference. He can’t trust. In fact, he usually assumes that I am out to sabotage him. Why would he think that and then also say that he loves me? Would you tell someone you love to “shut the f#*€ up”? I wouldn’t!

My instinct is to run away from this. Pack up the kids and dogs and drive all night to my parents house. We will be off school indefinitely.

Here we go, lock-in day 5. Please bring us peace. I just want peace.

Divorce in the Time of Coronavirus

The winter of 2020 has been very mild in my area. I am a teacher and colleagues were begging for just a day or two off school to get a mental break, that rewarding rest we crave. Some time to recharge our batteries to return with a fresh smile and rested eyes.

I am a science teacher, specifically biology. When we first heard of this new virus in China we were not scared, we were intellectually curious. And China seems so far away. We had no concerns. We didn’t stock up on supplies. We listened of school closures with jealousy. Not because we want an epidemic nor a pandemic but just some respite. Just a break.

Then it was spreading, we used our knowledge to teach or students. We talked about viral replication, why soap is better than hand sanitizer, how children don’t seem to get that sick from this so they shouldn’t worry about themselves but that we don’t want grandparents, parents, or people with other conditions getting this either. Wash your hands. Don’t touch each other.

Additionally, I am dealing with another type of stress. My husband and I are in the process of getting divorced. All of things that led us to that point, well, it’s too much to put in an introductory blog post. He would like to remain married. I cannot stay married to him. He doesn’t understand why we can’t work it out. I think that trying to teach someone who has lived for 50 years how to have empathy and compassion is something I am not willing to spend the rest of my life doing. My feelings are hurt because he wants to stay together, tells me he loves me when his actions show otherwise. His feelings are hurt because he considers me his best friend and I want nothing to do with him.

Maybe I will get into all of that, maybe not. We have different perspectives. I can’t see them being reconciled. We have 2 kids. A thirteen year-old daughter and an eight year-old son.

When it was announced that schools were closed in Pennsylvania, I was glad. Teachers could see last week that eventually we would close and epidemiologically, closing earlier makes more sense than closing later. Kids are still being fed although they aren’t getting counseling they would normally have in school. Some homes aren’t great. Some kids like coming to school to escape their homes but for the epidemic, we sent them all home.

I am a planner and we made a schedule to follow so that my kids aren’t spending 24/7 on a screen but how do I distance myself from my soon-to-be-ex-husband when we are stuck in our home together, possibly for 4-6 weeks?

I am reading, I’ll try blogging. I am grading late work my students are turning in. My husband is hoping that this lock-in will give us time to talk. That this intense togetherness can heal our problems. I think it will only allow me to practice patience. My husband has attention issues. He always needs to be the center of it. He always wants the family in the same room, doing things together. He thinks this is great, the greatest. Maybe I would too if I felt valued in this relationship.

I know I am lucky, I am not stuck with a physical abuser. I have only been threatened with physical violence by my husband who “loves me”. But that’s not something you do to someone you love.

Three weeks ago as we were turning papers into our mediator, he was saying he can’t make enough to live on his own and pay me child support. I am literally holding my breath waiting for him to refinance our shared home so I have a down-payment to move out while we wait for the divorce to be finalized. Three weeks ago he was scared and worried about making enough to pay me child support for the kids. He kept telling me that I was asking for too much, when I was asking for $500 less than his pay stubs and the state office recommended. Now, he is telling me he is going to take a leave from work if they offer it. He wants to just stay home with the whole family here. So I am just stuck, waiting, listening to his panic and also his refusal to do anything to help his situation.

I stocked up on wine and the grocery store should have more. I am breathing and practicing patience as much as I can.

Today I have already unloaded the dishwasher twice. When does this become a joint effort? Thankfully, he has been leaving to hike everyday. Thankfully, I have time to read. Thankfully, our schedule is keeping the kids’ noses in books a few hours a day. Thankfully, he does not physically abuse me. That has to be a real concern for some people right now.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has resources available. They have people there to chat. There are so many things that could be worse than this but this also is not easy. My prediction of 4-6 more weeks of this is based on what I know about diseases and how long it took for things to settle down in China. I am hoping we are not being held that long. I am hoping he returns to traveling for work soon so we have a break. I wish I had moved out years ago so I would not be stuck in this situation. But I am not one to cling to regret.

What can I do?

  1. Read – Currently reading “Truly, Madly, Guilty” by Liane Moriarty
  2. Blog – tell others how this is going for me
  3. Bake – we are out of bread and english muffins
  4. Board games – forcing the kids to pick one game every night
  5. Meditate – admittedly, I am bad at formal meditation practice but great at taking a breath in the moment
  6. Yoga – the studio is closed but I have some resources to create mini-flows at home
  7. Stream – all those Netflix and Hulu shows that I never have time for
  8. Draw – once a passion of mine, something that has died but can be revived
  9. Knit – Saving this for later

Anyone else stuck inside with someone they don’t appreciate? How are you dealing?