As a large rock that sits in one’s shoe as a constant bother and pain, so too have I been a rock in your life. Your niece has attached to you as a pillar of strength where I have failed miserably. There are no words or actions that can undo or remedy the pain and suffering I have caused you, your niece, and your family. All I can do is express my deepest apology and take responsibility for my actions. With the separation of Lindsay and I, finally life will brighten on both sides of the fence. I wish not to be a continuous burden to your family and will keep as far of a distance as possible to maintain some form of tranquility. Thank you for welcoming me into your family, and I’m ashamed that I have disappointed you all.
This was only one of the many letters from David written to various members of my family and closest friends in the couple of weeks after our decision to separate and divorce was made. During David and I’s sit down verbal agreement regarding our possessions and assets, he informed me that he had taken the liberty of writing letters and offered to have me “proofread” them before sending them or not sending them at all if I didn’t want him to. I told him he could send whatever he wanted and no, I didn’t wish to read them beforehand. I already knew every one would share them with me after they received them anyhow. It seemed like an odd thing for him to do but who am I to stop someone from sending a letter?
By the time all were sent and read, the majority of them shared the same basic idea of which was that I was going to desperately need someone to lean on, endless extra support as a consequence of our “mutual” separation as he also once referred to it. This struck me as quite assumptive and obtuse, not to mention borderline narcissistic. Of course I couldn’t have gotten through any of this without my amazingly supportive friends and family, but I took it as a presumption that I was expected to be infinitely wallowing in my sorrow and drowning in my tears.
The particular letter above was sent via Facebook to my auntie right before he deleted all of my friends and family from his connections. I chose to share this specific letter because I would go as far as to say that it’s the closest to accuracy out of all of them and fairly void of the egotistical premise that I was going to need someone in his absence. If I were to dissect each sentence, I might say that a single, silly rock in one’s shoe doesn’t even come close to the proper analogy to describe his place in my and my loved ones’ lives.
While the majority of his message was quite contrite, I’m not so sure David even truly believed any of the words he actually wrote. Regardless, I also chose this letter because only two of my closest connections had the displeasure of witnessing the darker side of David that I faced on a much more regular basis, that I had been living with for almost two and a half years – the drunk David – the mean, the vindictive, the competitive, the insecurely irrational David – The David that would say and do things he would deeply regret later. These two connections are my dear friend, Jimmy and my auntie.
When passing through Kansas City en route to Los Angeles last winter, David and I joined my auntie and uncle for what began as a fun game of Monopoly one night complemented by alcoholic beverages. I was worried when I realized that the bottle of whatever it was, Scotch or Whiskey, that my uncle and David were sharing was practically empty. Even though I was in partial denial about David’s alcohol problem, I wasn’t oblivious to his drastic behavioral changes that erred on the side of nasty when he was intoxicated.
On one side of the game table, my happy-go-lucky drunk uncle was laughing and enjoying himself and on the other side of the table, my competitive by nature husband was pissed about the fact that I was winning the game. His escalating attitude triggered my own defenses. I recall wanting to leave sooner than later because the idea of my auntie and uncle having to observe one of our fights did not appeal to me and the tension was already tangible.
On the drive back to my grandmother’s house where we were sleeping for our brief layover in Kansas City, an expected and horrendous fight ensued. David abruptly jumped out of the rental car at a stoplight at two in the morning. I immediately turned right to park the car in a lot and run after him. After catching up to him, we proceeded to scream at each other, right there on the sidewalk, across from the apartments where I spent the first eight years of my life and down the street from my middle school. I reflect on these seemingly minute details, taking myself back to the fourteen-year-old girl, standing in front of my school waiting for my mama to pick me up – My body, blossoming into that of a young woman’s, never in a million years imagining engaging in a screaming match, fourteen years later, steps down the street with my future husband.
David indignantly walked away, down the street with absolutely no direction in mind. I was so angry at his endangering audacity. I teeter-tottered back and forth from letting him go, chasing him again and/or calling my auntie and uncle for help. I chose the latter with remorse as we had all been drinking this particular night. I knew that asking them to help would be asking one of them to drive under the influence. They quickly came and drove down the street where they found David walking along in the dark, aimlessly. My auntie demanded that he “get his ass in the car now” after failingly asking nicely and receiving no active response. They urged us both to go home and sleep it off.
The rest of the drive to my grandmother’s was thankfully quiet. I found myself on the telephone with one of my closest friends that night, crying in the basement where I spent many younger days playing with Lincoln logs and typing out children’s stories on the antique typewriter. My girlfriend was shocked at the night’s turn of events as so many were mostly unaware of the trials that were swiftly becoming endemic within our rocky relationship.
The following morning, I awoke early and drove back to my auntie and uncle’s with the intention of profusely apologizing to them for having to witness and intervene. As I sat on their couch, conversing in detail about the state of my new marriage, my auntie earnestly interjected.
“Linds, you’re not going to like what I’m about to say but as I’m listening to you, you wanna know what this reminds me of?” She asked and I already knew the answer.
The silence between us was deafeningly audible as I held my breath, waiting for her to finally say the words – To say what I was well aware of but too in love to admit at the time…
“I’ve had this exact conversation with your mom.” She sadly admitted.
I nodded, my head hanging a bit lower than it was before the harsh truth was spoken – before it was put into the Universe that existed between us at that moment. She was right. Everything I was saying was like my mom describing her relationship with my dad to her best friend, her sister. Even though I didn’t swallow that pill that day, I kept it in my pocket and I pulled it out to look at it, turn it round and round in the palm of my hand, every now and then.
Those words, “I’ve had this exact conversation with your mom” hit me like a wrecking ball reminding me of the dire but necessary promise I made to my mama a few years prior. I solemnly promised her that I would never make the same mistake she made in regards to a man – I would never spend almost twenty-five years of my precious life with someone who is less than everything I know I deserve. My sincere promise wasn’t made in judgment toward her life’s decision either as I understand many factors played part in her remaining with my dad for so long – her children being the major one. I had the advantage of an example to learn from and the premature confrontation of mortality definitely demands one live life to the fullest to say the absolute least.
Our lives are defined by moments and our reactions to the many hurdles and roadblocks that we encounter along the journey. My auntie’s honesty was a hurdle I didn’t leap over right away – it took another five months to finally do so but I am grateful that she was willing to offer up that candor, to be frank if you will.
While I sat in my mama’s sister’s living room that early morning feeling sorry for the fact that she unexpectedly witnessed one of David and mine’s darker moments, today I am thankful that she did. It makes me feel a little less crazy and alone in all of the madness that once was because within all of my stories, I have spectators able to validate my experiences if and when I begin to doubt myself. It also enabled my auntie to be one of the only letters from David recipients to respond and she did so in the most appropriate manner that she saw fit. Unfortunately, she lost her response somewhere in the space of technology but suffice it to say, she was quite frank with him just as she was appreciatively frank with me that despairing morning in the aftermath of fight number X to the third power.