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.

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?