Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Darkness Comes Calling

She always comes when I least expect it, but somehow I've learned to forgo surprise at her arrival. The last time she made her presence known, I heard a screen door slam and almost looked up to see her coming just a-flyin'. If I closed my eyes real tight, I could have seen her damp curls shakin' as they formed an indignant crown framing her navy blue eyes.

I had been driving down the road minding my own business. It was all I could do to keep from pulling over because I knew she was going to slip away before I got a-hold of her and pulled her close. She had come to give me a gift. Before she slipped away, I had the framework for “I Love You Do You Love Me. Check Yes No.”

I don't know what it is about the weather, but somehow the weather works its way on me just as powerfully as does she. And sometimes, the 2 of them work hand in hand like they did today. It's eerie almost how my bones feel the future comin' on. I can feel it in the changes of the shadows on the ground and the lift in the breeze when it whispers in the trees. These days of the year, even my eyes feel change coming as the glare on the passing windshields shifts.

Mad Penguin Creative
Maybe it is because one of my earliest memories involves the slam of a screen door before sunrise. It seemed as if that noise was an alarm clock for the birds because shortly thereafter, they went to chirping and cheeping loud enough to make every worm in 3 counties go into the witness protection program. I'd snuggle down under the light covers required at the time. Before I'd drift off into the last hours of childhood slumber, the TV would come on. I'd hear the weatherman prepare the farmers, fisherman, and shrimpers for the coming day. Last thing thru my ears was the coastal tide schedule. Next thing I'd know, I could smell eggs frying in the pan and the sun was up.

I'm guessing that the rhythm of my life became so closely connected to the rhythm of the seasons and weather because of those moments when the voices rocked me from wakefulness to sleep. I think that's how salt water got in my veins and took up residence. Nothing heals me quicker than the sound of an ocean wave. Nothing is more tantalizing to my soul than that last step before you top the dune and hearing will become seeing.

Mad Penguin Creative
I guess it should have been no surprise then that she came back today. Only this time the little girl voice and curly mop of hair had been replaced by an older, wiser, less rambunctious visitor. I think I knew she was coming as soon as I stepped out the door. The breeze lifted the way it does when September is snorting and pawing and ready for the starter gun to sound. There's something about that first breeze when it hits my skin. I feel it and know, maybe before you do, that the spell of summer heat has been broken. Don't matter how many days of Indian Summer are ahead. Those days are just a tease. Summer done gone a-fore you wiped the last sweat off yo' brow.

See. That's how it happens. Before I know it, her voice is in my head, and the way I think stops being the way I think and starts being what she has come to say. She don't talk like me. She's not sure where she's from. She's got salt water in her veins but mountain borned wisdom in her soul. Her words come out all mountain-y too. All day long I fought with my duties because I just wanted to sit and listen.

She sounded weary today. Weary and wise and resigned. I strained to catch a glimpse of the porch she was resting on because I could hear the just so creak of a rocking chair and knew she was barely rocking at all. Rocking and thinking and ready to talk.

Humph. Words. Ain't no way 'round it. Ain't no more powerful weapon on God's creation. All them talk about Gaddafi and his weapons stash on the Tee Vee. Don't them fancy talking folks know he don't hold no candle to words. Only thing wounds more mortal than words is a word come sailing in on a look.”

I sighed a deep sigh. Some because I don't like that first wind of fall. The only redeeming quality about fall I can think of is that I can indulge my favorite hobby of raking leaves. Mostly, I sighed because I knew a thing or 2 about a word that comes sailing in on a look.

When Jeff came home from that fancy job he'd left behind because we were out of options for moving, I thought God had closed a door and opened a window. (To be true, I hate that cliché. In a loving Christian way, of course.) I was so bent over double from the stress of that year what with my fall, my recovery, and my mom's decline and death, that it took me a couple of months to raise up and see the truth.

As my heart began to wake up from its protective hibernation, it dawned on me that the man I'd promised to love and endure with till the end was not himself. He was angry. Who wouldn't be. He was sick every single day, and the doctors couldn't tell us why. He'd just made a super hero choice and opted for his family over the best job he'd had in his life. We were up to our eyeballs, again, in the only debt we could bear because of medical debt and the strain of maintaining our home and his apartment for a year. A lesser man would have opted for hard liquor chased down by something harder. 
He was soldering on, but just like the boys and me, he was at the end of his rope. He was also much more the man whose office door I had dared not approach during the years the locust ate before we filed Chapter 13. The man I remarried had finally, really disappeared completely. If anything he wasn't just the old one, he was even MORE of the old one. To be fair, we were all pretty wiped out from the 10 year strain of never regaining our footings. I think I heard Dr. Phil call it 'reflexive biting' one time. He said folks under great stress, who are cooped up together for too long, eventually turn on each other. I think...I think we might be in the picture dictionary as the example given for that term based on what happened next.

Mad Penguin Creative
The stresses and strains of his year away had fractured the boys and me. We were tense with each other. It was hard to believe we'd ever been friendly really. On this particular day, the tectonic plates of our lives shifted just like we'd had a 5.9 earthquake. Emotions were at a fever pitch, and we collectively lost it. We couldn't kick God, so we flailed out at each other...all 4 of us. It was about as bad as anything could get without the police rolling up to investigate. Wasn't the day to look to us for a spiritual road map, that's for sure.

There was a lull in the action, and he turned his eyes on me. I don't even have to close my eyes to see it now. In all the years, in all the pain, in all the loss, I'd never seen that unguarded, completely honest look. I didn't have to hear the words to know the meaning. The words came anyway. The vehemence of the truthful emotion sucked all the air out of my lungs. Had I not still been somewhat numb from the weeks in ICU, I think I would have collapsed in a heap. As it was, I stood and absorbed the verbal blows. Physical blows would have been easier to recover from; I am almost sure.

And, in those awful, hideous moments, I knew that I would never be the same. I knew that God was as far from me as he had ever been. In that comfortless void, I also knew that my husband had finally, completely told the ugly truth about his feelings toward me. Even now, my breathing is ragged just from the strain of knowing what I know.

Mad Penguin Creative
In those few moments, every thing I had hoped I was or had ever hoped to be died. All that was left of me was a shell. The slow destruction that had been approaching for 11 long years was final. When my world stopped shaking and the 4 of us sought safety in 4 far corners of the house, I quietly packed a few days worth of clothing. I had no place to go but knew for certain that I had no place left to be that was safe. I eased out of the house and was gone before anyone knew I had headed off into the night. I headed toward the setting sun trying to outrun the darkness clamoring to devour my soul. 

Daniel 2:22 (Bible in Basic English)
He is the unveiler of deep and secret things: he has knowledge of what is in the dark, and the light has its living-place with him.


  1. Once again your words have hit home. Simple words, basic words, but so filled to overflowing with the pain you bore and continue to bear. Many a days I look around and think, "I could walk away and never return." Emotional abuse and verbal abuse is harder to heal from than physical abuse.

    Those that say they are married to their best friends - I wonder what that would be like? To be married to someone that put your needs first, that cared when you hurt, that went out of their way to make your day better. That loved you wholeheartedly. That would be a little slice of Heaven, if only to experience it for one day.

    Know that you aren't alone in your pain.

  2. In retrospect, I have to say that I am thankful for this day. It cemented in my mind that the abuse issue from his past was anything BUT resolved. Once I navigated the next few, darkest months of my life, I was able to take action to 'reclaim' myself. I truly hope you have a sounding board to turn to. There are times when it is needful and necessary for separations so that abusive dynamics can be broken. In my case, I was able to network with a professional counselor who has significant training and experience in dealing with issues of sexual abuse. She has been able to help me see what is 'mine' vs what part of our marital dynamic is rooted in the seeds of the past history of childhood abuse. Please do not suffer quietly and alone. If you need help networking w/ a counseling professional, inbox me privately under your alias. My contact info is in the speaks for you and writes for you pages in the above toolbar. Do not try and endure your situation alone. Please.

  3. Many of us walk away in our minds . . . .

  4. I wish the answer, the reason was some sort of abuse in his past. But alas, there wasn't any as he had a model childhood. Parents spoiled him and he had a very easy life. He's just selfish and self-centered and really only cares about himself. He has no relationship with our children as they don't tolerate his total indifference. I'm caught in the middle, but KNOW what I would chose if asked. I feel sorry for him on many levels. Then again, I feel sorry for me, too. He didn't show this side before we were married. He changed a month after we were married, but divorce isn't in my families vocabulary. I was/am a fraidy cat to just up and leave. So as Anonymous said - I walk away in my mind ...

    Thanks for caring and for putting yourself out there to let us know we aren't alone.

  5. I truly hope you will find a wise counselor to help you thru these difficulties no matter what the root cause. Having someone on the outside looking in w/ objectivity has helped me stay the course more times than I can count. If I may, if you have not read, Love and Respect by Emmerson Eggerichs, please consider getting a copy from the library or such. DO NOT read the part directed at men...just the part for women and the part for both husband and wife. It is an EASY, fun read and may have some insights for you. You can try...and put if down if you don't find it enlightening. Prayers for you as you soldier on.

  6. Re walking away in our minds...I faced hat delimma as well and tell about the experience in the blog post Fraidy Cat Choices in a Fraidy Cat World parts 1 & 2. I'm sure that we lived in a state of emotional divorce for many years. I fear many of us do.