I sat uncomfortably on the couch as the therapist looked back and forth between my husband and I.
Did he expect me to actually say something? Shit. What was I supposed to say? Was I supposed to tell him why we were here? Is that what I was supposed to say? I thought back to every movie I'd ever seen that had a scene where the couple went to marriage counseling. Hell.
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Why was I supposed to start this awful conversation?
Was I supposed to tell the therapist that I'd finally had enough? Was I supposed to tell him about the straw and the camel's back or whatever that dumb metaphor was? Or was it a simile? I could never keep those two straight. Hm. Okay. Maybe that's where to begin. At the end.
I thought about that night.
I thought about that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, that feeling of despair, that niggling sense of not-rightness I'd gotten when I'd looked at the clock and realized what time it was. How the acid churned in my gut as I thought to myself, "oh no, not again," while I tried to call my husband. I was trying to see when he'd be home - a normal thing to do - and yet, this feeling, well, it was not normal. I recalled how the panic rose to a dull ringing in my ears when I couldn't get through to him. His work cell, which was always, always on, would pick up, then cut off, as though he'd been answering it only to hang up on me, which was, I knew, precisely what he was doing. I just didn't know why.
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I remembered that when I'd finally spoken to him, he'd been drunk, drunker than I'd ever heard him. He spent those two minutes on the phone lying to me about where he'd been and what he'd been doing.
Then he was crying.
I remembered that helpless feeling; stuck at home, our three children snug in their beds, slumbering on thankfully unawares, while I wept with the kind of despair that comes from the bottom of your feet. The kind of despair you feel when you realize that it's finally over. Something had to give.
Eventually, he came home and vomited all over the house before passing out. I considered dumping a bucket of ice water on his head, but decided against it. Not out of kindness to him, but because I didn't want to get my couch wet. The next day, I called the therapist.
So we sat there with our new therapist, the two of us, at the end of one road and the beginning of a new one, each staring dumbly at our hands and wondering how it had gotten to this point. How does anyone get to this point? We didn't strap on our weddin' clothes and march down that aisle to end up here, sitting in front of some stranger, dissecting our emotions and actions piece-by-ever-loving-piece. And yet, there we were. The last, final attempt at salvaging what we once had before we threw in the towel once and for all.
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I took a deep breath, ready to speak.
"It started this one night," he began.
Image via miguelpdl/Flickr
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