You caused this

Yesterday work was extremely stressful for me. We have moved to teaching online for COVID-19 and our district is still working things out as far as expectations for teachers and students. I teach mostly freshmen and I’ll admit that sometimes I take my job too seriously. Yes, I am teaching Biology, but more importantly, I am trying to teach my students responsibility and work ethic. I want them to know that there are consequences for their decisions. Many of them have had crazy lives and too much or not enough discipline. My lessons are more important than my content.

So work is kind of shifting about directives for teachers. Some of the expectations aren’t realistic, some get sent then immediately revised, some are obviously not best practice. And our administration is doing their best. They really are. And we are too. I get several thank you emails a day from administration and colleagues. I know they appreciate our work. But I also want to do things correctly and it has been hard to identify what is “correct,” lately.

Yesterday was tough. My group of teacher friends were all stressed to the max. And when I am done with work I can’t relax and unwind because my home is stressful too.

Yesterday my husband was odd. All day he ignored anything I said, with the exception of when I announced “Dinner!” to which he replied, “Already? It’s too early.” I think he did thank me for making the tacos. But he was eerily quiet all day. When we were all watching a show during Family Movie Time, he stood up and left without saying a word. Later when I tucked the kids in he was asleep in his room. So weird. I expected him to be raging.

And I didn’t have to wait long. I got up this morning and checked my email and he had emailed the lawyer at midnight telling her that the agreement we have won’t work because he wants me to move out sooner. This man is ridiculous!

I texted him back that the lawyer is not a conflict specialist. That he should stop emailing her and let her do her job! I know that he just wants attention. I knew he was going to blow up about something. I took a breath, put on my spinning ring, and went to the kitchen to make my breakfast.

When he comes into the room he greets me, “Good morning honey!” This I do not understand. I replied, “yeah,” And started cooking my eggs. I asked him what he is doing. Explained that he can’t send his every worry and anxiety to the lawyer and asked if he remembered that we had a plan and choices for May. He could stay home and use up our savings or he can go back to work and probably not have to work any flights because 99% of them have been cancelled. He is still not collecting any unemployment. I am our only source of income. When he goes back to work, to protect the kids from the virus we have two options, he can get a crashpad, basically rent a room near the airport, or I can pack up the kids and dogs and drive 20 hours to my parents house.

I am ask, “Do you remember? You were sitting at that table!” He shouts, “You said you were not moving out until December!” That is not what I said. What I said was that December is the deadline for me to move out in the marriage settlement agreement. I am trying to move out as soon as I can.

He screams, “I DON’T WANT THIS! YOU CAUSED THIS! YOU CAUSED THIS!” I said, “No, your behaviors are causing this. If i had my way we would have had this all done and settled long before the world knew of a virus.”

“YOU ARE A PIECE OF SHIT! YOU CAUSED THIS!”

“I DID NOT CAUSE THIS!” I yelled back. He looks around, “Shhhh,” the neighbors will hear you. He had at that point been yelling at me for 15 minutes. I told him I am not delaying moving out, I want to love out as soon as possible but it takes more than 24 hours to buy a new house. “YOU ARE A PIECE OF SHIT!” No, I am not. I am not.

He continues to email me through out the day. I haven’t gotten much work done because I am trying to contact a notary and see if self-storage is open and accepting new applications. He is telling me I am forcing him to return to work. He truly does not understand any conversation we have ever had and it is so frustrating. I am not making him work in May. I want him to go to work and not come home but I am willing to use savings that I carefully saved for moving to prevent him from getting sick.

The marriage therapist says to disengage but that is so hard when we are trapped in the same house 24/7 with no escape. I am sleeping in my daughter’s room and sleeping in her bed. I am living in the basement office. I am loading and unloading the dishwasher everyday. I am cooking all the meals for the kids, attending to their school and emotional needs, and making sure they bathe. I feel like I am doing everything and I cannot wait to escape this prison.

But I decided I am not leaving this house until I have a place to move into. I am not running just because he is an asshole. Fuck him. This is my house and I have a right to be here, even after he refinances it, until I can find a place of my own or December 31, 2020, which ever comes first. Fuck him. I am done being cooperative. I emailed him that I am not moving out. I ordered boxes so I can get my things out of the house so he doesn’t damage them. I will live in the office in the basement and sleep with my daughter. I will read and try to find hope and joy. Nothing lasts forever.

Am I crazy?

FRIDAY: Am I the crazy one? My husband, just now, again, told me, “We have to talk.” Which always means to me, that he needs me to solve some shit pile of a mess he has gotten himself into.

He just proposed that we postpone refinancing the house for THREE YEARS. And I think he expected me to be happy about this. He asked me if he could take a 6 month COLA and not work for 6 more months. He told me that he doesn’t want coronavirus and doesn’t want to bring it home when he goes back to work in May.

I don’t understand why he didn’t say these things BEFORE the finalization session. If I was in his position with his fears, I would have found a solution that made me reliable on myself. He can’t think of a solution that doesn’t involve me living in his home for 3 more years “until things level out.” Things might never level out. When I asked why he didn’t say this BEFORE the finalization session, he said he tried. He never mentioned this. He just kept saying, “things are bad at work. I am going to be on reserve.”

Now he thinks I should…. I don’t even know what he proposed because it wasn’t a plan. I think he wanted to not work for 6 months while I just live here with him but still “get divorced.” How does that even work?

SATURDAY: This morning I told him I think we will have enough savings for him to stay home in May. And he got mad at me. I thought this was what he wanted? He said he suggested that already. Suggested? Asked? Taking a month off work depends on the cash we have at hand. How long will our savings last? Is he getting and unemployment?

Yesterday he asked to take a 6 month leave. We can’t do that. We won’t have cash, my sanity won’t be able to take it. I can’t support him for 6 months when all I want is away from this relationship.

Now he’s mad because when he asked me yesterday what I want, I said I want him to go to work and I want to move out. That is what I want. He asks me for my opinion and then gets mad when it isn’t the same as his.

SUNDAY: He makes me feel like I am insane. I just want to make a plan to separate and follow that plan. He doesn’t want to make a plan and wants to just wait and see how things go, which means, never separate?

He suggested that we pay off the house before divorcing. That sounds great but if we had the money to pay off the house we would have done that already. And to me, it just sounds completely irrational. Even if the house is paid off, then he’s just giving me more money to buy out my equity. It makes no sense.

I think I know that what he’s saying makes no sense. The marriage counselor says, “he makes no sense. He’s not logical.” But I still spend a lot of time trying to make sense of what he says and does. I’m still trying to figure out what the rules are. In reality, they are whatever he wants them to be and change from moment to moment. But still, I am trying to be compassionate and understanding and not the evil person he says I am.

Yesterday after telling him he could have May off. We would be okay financially, he get mad and left the dining room table. He put on his noise cancelling headphones and stormed upstairs. I texted him to come back down so we could formulate a plan. This concept is completely lost on him. As if “planning” isn’t a thing in his brain. He eventually cane back down and said he wasn’t talking to me if I was yelling at him.

I don’t understand! I was sitting calmly. I had not raised my voice at all. The therapist asked me once, “Does he think ‘yelling’ is anyone who doesn’t agree with him?” Maybe that’s it? Not only was I not yelling but I thought I was being gracious to give him a choice to not work if he doesn’t feel safe going back to work. But he thought I was yelling.

He returned able to have a calm conversation for a while. He has made no decision about May. He is concerned he will lose his job is September and wants me to just hang on until then to see what happens. SEPTEMBER! Then he might sell the house. So in September I would have money for a down payment and who knows what the market and interest rates would be like then.

So I said that doesn’t give me much time to buy a house. The settlement agreement says I will move out by December 2020. To which he screeches “December 2020!” Then mockingly, “why are you prolonging this!” He parroting my own words back to me. I tried to explain that I am not changing anything we already established. He agreed to December 2020 in the settlement agreement. And I am not trying to prolong it that’s why September doesn’t work. But even if he refinances in May, I won’t be moving out immediately. Closing on a house often takes at least a month. Ideally, I would like to move out over the summer.

The cycle repeats. I say what I want, honestly, and he gets mad at me. He launched into “well you had better get working on finding a place! What’s taking you so long. Get looking.” This is ridiculous. As I have told him 100 times, I cannot go to a realtor without a down payment, and to have that, he needs to complete the refinance. Right now there are 2 houses in my price range in our school district, TWO. Both have been on the market longer than 90 days. Good houses pop up and are sold before photos are even posted. His taunting is ridiculous.

But when he taunts next, ridicules me, I know intellectually that it says more about him than it says about me. At the same time it does say something about me. It says that I was dumb enough to ever see hope in a relationship with this man who doesn’t value anything I say or do! And that is the part that makes me sad. It also says that I am strong and smart and have good reasons to leave. But knowing these things does not make this feel better. It still feels like shit to be treated like shit. I am still constantly confused because he thinks I am the unbalanced one. Am I the unbalanced one? The marriage counselor says, no, and has even go so far as to say he is crazy. My friends say, no, it is him. My kids say, no, it is him. He yells at random food workers. He yells at the scheduler at his work. He gets mad and throws his phone when he has to call out sick. So I shouldn’t care what his fucked up irrational opinion of my actions are but I do. I have a need for him to see that I am being kind and fair even though he isn’t.

He will never understand this. He will always see me as the evil bitch who stabbed him in the back. He will always see me as the person who took everything from him.

Even just the repeated begging he has been doing for us to work this out. Saying he will go to counseling. When he says that I want to physically harm myself. I begged him to go to counseling! It took him 3-4 months to call and schedule one appointment, that’s how important this was to him. The counselor was good. He identified right away that my husband can’t identify emotions in himself or others and does not show empathy. My husband called him a douchebag and stopped attending after 3 sessions. I went by myself because he “accidentally” volunteered to work when we had a session scheduled and it was too short notice to cancel. It’s perfect! Just like everything else, I was left to do it alone! Then when I draw the line and say, “that’s it. I’m done.” He begs to go back to see “Dr Douchebag.”

He texts my family and friends and tells them to tell me to go back to counseling. WHEN HE NEVER WENT TO COUNSELING! I have been more times alone than I was with him. He repeatedly says he will change his anger and will “get help” but he wants to get help by taking a walk in the woods. He can’t do this alone. He doesn’t even understand where the problems are.

I’m exasperated. I’m exhausted.

Yesterday after this long calm talk about the future he poured half a bottle of wine into his glass at 9am. He’s not usually a drinker and I do not know what prompted this at 9am. I asked and he said “I have to finish the bottle before it goes bad.” At 9am?

And he is ignoring the decision of working or not working in May. When asked, he will say “how can I know that now?” It seems lost on him that adults make decisions everyday when they aren’t sure how things will turn out. You just do the best you can.

Maybe it is coronavirus isolation, but kindle unlimited has a lot of books about relationships and narcissists and BPD free for members. I am reading a good one right now “The Miserable Marriage Handbook for Woman” by Kathleen Keith. Repeatedly hearing the insights of others helps me maintain my own sanity.

Yesterday I rented “10 Cloverfield Lane.” Very good of you can handle watching someone being isolated with their abuser while isolated with your abuser.

When finalization is not final

This week we started teaching online for my school. That has been interesting. I use a lot of technology in my classrooms but because everyone in the nation was trying to school online, there were some problems with access and database errors. It made for a busy week of online teaching because I had tons of emails from kids everyday asking for help.

Tuesday night we had a finalization session with the mediator. All of these terms we wrote up on January 1, 2020. It was March 31, 2020. At the finalization it took a long time because my husband is trying to get the lawyer to understand that he doesn’t want to agree to any terms. He is telling her how he isn’t working which is again, his CHOICE and not some shitty thing that happened to him. When we asked her for recommendations abut child support, she basically told us if we wanted her professional opinion, it would cost an additional $900 and we would have to have another meeting.

As is typical for my husband, he didn’t want to spend the $900. Eventually after a 90 minute meeting, we had everything “finalized.” The lawyer took her notes to draw up the papers which she promised to us the next week.

AH! It is actually moving forward.

Then came Wednesday morning. I am in a Zoom for a meeting, answering emails, and in the middle of a massive Schoology outage when my husband comes down in to the home/office and says “we need to talk.” Which to me always means he needs my help and wants me to do something for him. I told him I was working until 3pm and got back to it.

At 3pm I went up to the kitchen to see what he needed. First of all his unemployment claim was denied because he voluntarily left his job. This is what I told him originally when he said he was taking the leave but he said someone else called and he would be paid. So he is not getting unemployment. And I don’t think it is something he is entitled to. He shouldn’t get unemployment for taking the chicken-shit way out and avoiding work. If he HAD stayed at work, his coworkers were paid full time and have not had to report to work so it would have been a good situation to be in. But no, he took the unpaid leave. When I brought up that he made this mess he said “I took the COLA because I was afraid of being on reserve (on-call)!” This is NOT what he said when he signed up for the COLA. When he signed up for the COLA he said he was taking it to avoid getting COVID-19. He told me he took it out of fear of getting sick. And I have no sympathy for him being afraid of being on reserve. I was on reserve at the same job for the better part of 6 years! He could handle it. But he didn’t want to do hard things, so he folded.

The next shitty thing that he wanted me to solve is that he sent the lawyer an email to say she should stop preparing all of our papers! While sitting at my desk all day, I do not read my personal email and so I wasn’t aware of this until he mentioned it. When I looked at the email he sent her it was like someone drunk was typing with alphabet soup. He sent her screen shots of different schedule from some app and said he wanted a schedule like one of these. This makes no sense because none of these schedules would fit with his normal work schedule!

Alternating weeks! God! I would LOVE alternating weeks! Then I could make plans and not have to talk to him about when he is working but he repeatedly said before in earlier negotiations that alternating weeks would not work for him. So we went with 2 weeks notice of his schedule. And now he emails her that he wants alternating weeks? I told him it makes no fucking sense.

Well, he doesn’t want alternating weeks. He just wanted her to know that he wants the kids 50/50, which is already in the documents. And he thinks the child support that we agreed on in January and that has remained the same figure since January is too high. He had the figure since January but only decided a night after the “finalization” session that it was too high. Why didn’t he think of this sooner? Because he doesn’t think. He just panics when it is too late. Why couldn’t he have brought any of this up BEFORE the “finalization” session?

I emailed the lawyer back and sent her new terms. We did lower the child support. He was right, it was too high but it took him 3 months to articulate that in a constructive way. And he derailed getting the documents finalized. Was that his plan?

Thursday he worked on getting in touch with banks for the refinance. All day he worked on this. When I woke up this morning, Friday, he tells me that no bank will lend money to him to refinance because he isn’t working. Again that was his CHOICE. No, it is not surprising but it is also infuriating! Had he just gone to work like he was supposed to and not volunteered for a leave out of fear, we would not be having these problems.

He doesn’t think they are problems because he loves it when the whole family is stuck in the house together. This is his dream come true.

Thursday night after dinner he shouts “SHIT! I forgot the taxes in my budget!” This is odd because he didn’t make “his budget.” He copied the file that I use and changed the numbers. I have taxes in my budget, why would he have deflated that? He ranted and said he was selling the house. Which sucks for me because I will get less equity if he sells than if he refinances. It sucks for the kids because then they have to move twice. It sucks for me because we would both be looking for a new house and he could out bid me for my tiny little slice of heaven I am looking.

I breathed. It is not my job to solve his problems. I am not responsible for his circus. He kept repeating it over and over “I forgot the taxes!” Over and over. I kept breathing.

An hour later he says “oh, they were here all along.” It is a spreadsheet. All the bills are in one column. I am not sure how you could go through the 20 categories for over an hour and not notice that one of the categories as called “taxes” but that is what he did.

This morning, no shock, the bank refused to give him refinancing terms until he is back working. I highly suspect that he called the bank and said, “hey I was looking to refinance my house and cash out some equity but I don’t have a job this month so would you approve that?” To which the obvious answer is no. I am not saying a bank would loan to anyone who was out of work. But I am saying that if it were me, I would have presented my paystubs for this month, which are still normal and hoped for approval. I think he is looking for anyway to stall this whole procedure.

And it makes me want to scream but I will just breathe.

The good thing about school being demanding right now is that I can spend most of my day with the kids in the basement. They days pass more quickly because I am busy and actually have a lot to follow up on each day.

Monday is April 13th. Almost he middle of April, and so May will come sooner than it probably feels right now. And of course there is a chance that when May arrives many things will be different. And so all I can do is focus on work and loving the kids and be as patient as possible. The only thing certain is that things change.

Beautiful Hopeful Day

I woke up early and made my favorite matcha green tea. While my phone was charging, I read my book, sipped my tea, and read the ness on the iPad. This morning the headline is that US cases of coronavirus have exceeded China.

My son woke up and came to snuggle with me. My husband came downstairs and said “good morning.” They left to walk the dogs and do some calisthenics. As they were leaving he said, “go ahead and tell the lawyer we are ready for the finalization session.” I went up to take a shower.

The light in the bathroom was gorgeous. Streaming in through the slits in the blind. The birds are chirping outside. It’s a beautiful spring day. There is an end in sight. I can handle this. I can make it.

After my shower I retreated to the basement office to finish my online lessons for next week. My son joined me to work on his school work. My husband followed because he doesn’t like to be alone. I was working when he said, “Have you seen this house? It’s $250k, is that in your budget? You could move there?”

“This is not your problem to solve,” I said. I didn’t mention that he’s looking for houses on the wrong side of the tracks and my budget is closer to $130k, but it doesn’t matter. It isn’t he business.

“DON’T BE RUDE TO ME!” He yells.

“Husband, I am working. Can you please let me work?” I replied. My sons eyes are welling with tears. He covers his ears.

“Why did you take my stuff? Would you like it if I took your stuff? I’ll take your book bag,” he picks up my school bag that I need for work. “How about I throw this on the lawn?” he shouts.

“I didn’t take something you need. I HID something that can kill me. When I can move out you can have it back.” I have already explained to him it was hide the gun or take the kids and run to safety.

“You are a real idiot,” he hollers. “Why do you always act like an idiot?” My son is crying now. “Expect to find your things on the lawn. I’m throwing your stuff out!”

“Try it and I’ll call the cops!” I shout after him as he heads back upstairs.

He comes down a few minutes later and rummages in the closet. He can’t even find the ketchup in the refrigerator, there’s no way he will find his gun. Maybe a 1% chance.

My son and I keep working. I calm him down. Explain that his dad has his feelings hurt because I want to move out so he’s acting out. That it’s okay to cry. He calms down and 10 minutes later is in a Zoom with his class, bright-eyed and cheery.

We went upstairs for lunch remembering what a beautiful day it was. We made our lunches and ate on the deck where my husband was reading his phone. He says to me, “I really love you. I still think you are cute. I do love you.” Is this the same guy who just screamed at me that I was an idiot? Am I the crazy one here?

The deck is big so we can all sit out there. Later he tells me again that he lives me and asks what he can do to fix this.

“Nothing,” I reply. It is too late. I’m afraid of him. I don’t trust anything he says. He just called me an idiot this morning, threatening to throw my things away, and this afternoon he loves me?

The lawyer hasn’t responded to set up a mediation appointment. It is a beautiful day. It carries so much hope. Tomorrow it is going to rain. And so these are the things we know are true, good times and bad times come and go. If times are bad now, eventually things will change. Just be patient and do what you can to create a new reality.

Liar, Liar

My husband has been tested for COVID-19. This was a bit of a puzzle to me because he has not been sick, at all. He went to urgent care to get a required doctor’s note for calling out sick longer than 6 days. He called out sick to avoid crowded planes and airports because he was afraid of getting sick, not because he is sick. But he needs his “illness” to be documented. Normally, this means you go to the doctor’s office, say “I didn’t feel well,” and they give you an excuse for work. The doctor’s office is closed so he went to urgent care. When he came home he announced they were testing him for COVID-19.

“Why?” I asked. You don’t have any symptoms.

“I don’t know,” he huffed. But they tested me.

It seemed weird but lots of things are weird about this whole situation so I just went back to prepping my online classes.

The next morning he calls the urgent care place. I hear him asking the receptionist when he will get his results back. He says “a week and a half? Thanks.” He hangs up and shouts “WHAT KIND OF BULLSHIT IS THAT?”

I am sitting on the couch, reading about Borderline Personality Disorders and trying to find equanimity. “Why does it matter when the results come back? You aren’t even sick. Why did they even test you?”

He repeats that he doesn’t know why they tested him but if the results take 10 days, then he will still be on a sick call when his leave of absence starts. And if he is marked as “sick” then he can’t collect unemployment. So he could be without an income for April if he can’t get it straightened out.

Why did they test him? Because he lied and said he had a fever of 102° for FOUR days. And happened to only go to the doctor after he was feeling better and had no fever. And because he pretended to have COVID, now he might not get unemployment for the month of April. This is the kind of shitty decision making I have lived with for 19 years!

This is a drama he entirely created by lying about being sick. Don’t lie is a good motto. That is the Truth of Life.


Later, he realized that his gun safe was no longer in his closet and went into a fury. “Why are you taking my things?”

“Because I was scared. I am not stealing them. I will give it back when I move out. I just had a decision between staying here with the kids or leaving to keep us safe and I chose to hide the gun safe to protect my safety.”

This is unacceptable. I am insane, he says. I am not. He would never hurt our kids he says. What about me? Would he hurt me? He already has.

Then the lawyer sent documents to finalize. He is freaking out about having to pay half the childcare bill which is $130/month for before care. “You are taking everything from me!”

He said he wants this to be over. (Me too.) He says he can’t wait to never have to deal with me again. He says he wont have enough money, he will have to sell the house. He is going to have about $1000 more each month to live on, not including his bonuses and paid vacation which total over $6,000 per year. He is not the one who is going to be broke after this. He is getting $150k from the house. I get $40k. I could ask for more child support. I could ask for half the house equity. All I want is enough to live off of and to get away from him. I want him to know that I am not after his money and I am not taking it all. I just want to feel safe and to find peace in my own home.

I don’t want to have to argue everyday.

I made dinner. I worked all day planning online instruction, I zoomed with my students, I logged my own kids into their zooms. Then I showered. I made baked chicken and rice with green beans. And I made the kids each a plate. Then I said, “you can come in and choose which piece of chicken you want.”

“Of course, you don’t make my plate.” I am not his slave. I don’t know which piece of chicken he wants. Some days he eats rice and vegetables, some days he is “keto” and only eating meat. I made it after working all day. Can he just make his own plate? No. I should have made his plate.

I have another Zoom after dinner but I also am responsible for cleaning up after dinner. The kids load their own plates. I wash all of the pans. I go to my Zoom and hope that he doesn’t come in, and make a scene.

My whole life for decades has been hoping he doesn’t come in and make a scene.

The lawyer is moving forward with the mediation. There is an end in sight. I am guessing that tomorrow he will tell me that he doesn’t want a divorce. I do.

Life-sustaining

Last night was intolerable. Embarrassing. When he calls me names, I feel so stupid. Not because I am dumb but because I am still in this fucked up relationship. Stupid for believing his lies. Stupid for thinking he could ever know how to love anyone.

This morning he says, “Good morning honey!” As if we are friends. Like my back isn’t throbbing from sleeping on the couch he got free from the neighbor. The couch he refused to allow me to replace, even though it hurts to sit on it. Because I am stupid. We can’t get a new couch because I am stupid. Got that? I waste money on things like decent furniture. See how bad I am. I am so wasteful. I wish I had bought a new couch.

Who calls someone white trash and double flips them the bird at 11pm and then says, “Good morning honey!” at 8am? My soon-to-be ex-husband. And when he announced in a chipper cheery voice “Good morning honey!” that’s when I decided that I need to move out no matter what. Love me or hate me but don’t tell me you love me, call me trash, tell me to go fuck myself, and then wake up amnesiatic of all previous events. It’s so dishonest. One of these things can’t be true. You cannot both love me and tell me to go fuck myself while giving me the double bird. That’s not what love looks like. I have to move out. Even if I don’t have my equity from our house. I will rent an apartment. I will rent an apartment as early as April 1st. I can tell the fool I am moving out on April Fools Day. It’s poetic.

But then the governor announced that only life-sustaining businesses are allowed to remain open because of coronavirus. And I respect his decision. Although, to me, a realtor is life sustaining at this moment. But realtors were specifically told to close. Maybe I can get an apartment without a realtor. I will try. Zillow only has one right now. Just one apartment. One apartment that is probably too expensive for me.

The courts have closed. The realtors, not open. In a stroke of accidental genius, beer stores are considered life-sustaining. They closed the wine stores. They closed the realtors. But sick and isolated people need beer, I guess.

My husband has announced that he is not going to work for the rest of the month. He is using sick time to prevent himself from getting sick. That would be great, if I wasn’t afraid of him. If he didn’t put me on edge. If I was sleeping in my comfortable bed instead of the neighbors free couch.

I have to move out as soon as I physically can. I have to move out. As soon as possible. Moving out is life-sustaining no matter what the governor says.

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.