In my lucid dream,
my ex husband asked for an apology;
I heard it in my ear as if I were having
a real conversation with him.
That woke me from a sound sleep.
Like mortar after years of pressure
I turned to sand and trickled out of the joints
blown asunder by wind, rain and a shifting foundation
until the only thing left was a small rectangular core
holding up a wall until the bricks started to wiggle loose
I was stuck to a brick that fell into the tall grasses below.
(Dry sand is an amazing tool for moving heavy objects,
just in case you need this kind of information.
Empty a bag of sand over the level driveway,
spread it to a thin layer and you can slide/drag heavy objects
across a fairly large expanse of area,
but that is neither here nor there in the conversation.)
Mother’s Day was interfering with his weekend with
our children. That is precisely the reason I asked for
a dissolution of the marriage. It became clear to me, some
years prior to my divorce, that my presence, my existence, my needs,
meant NOTHING to my husband when it did not directly benefit him.
I was useful, made things happen, I built things, I was like mortar.
I cried for help, but my voice was diminished from the screaming
I was permanently hoarse, no one listened or responded to my roars
of pain and anguish. No one listens to the ant that travels along
the foundation of a brick building. The ants are only noticed when
you stare intently at the ivy that has attached itself to the bricks
with suckers. Nearly invisible, the ants can climb a building when
intent upon a mission to search for food in the spring.
Strong little titans don’t worry about self respect or good treatment
they just work, work, work.
I became a worker ant during my marriage
Some of my male and female friends didn’t
seem to think there was a problem. That’s what
marriage is like. I “should have been happy,”
I “had everything, then gave it all up,”
I was a “bad wife and mother!” Some people only
listen with their own ears, rather than an empathetic ear
for a soul in pain. I went through a massive friend purge,
it hurt like they were dead while their ghosts kept haunting me.
I was raised to be polite, to not speak up until the end of a discussion. I realized that no one was listening, so I started to speak more often, earlier in conversations so I could be heard. I also was raised to believe that I could do anything, be anything I wanted to be. Sorry Mom, I just didn’t want to be a doctor, or join a sorority, or go to a black college, or join ROTC. I picked art and music. I thought the signs were pretty clear, but when dealing with a first generation college student mom, I was supposed to get a degree, then get a job doing something I hated (could do for thirty years) so that I could afford to do my art and music on the side as hobbies.
Well, I didn’t. I got the least helpful degree possible that made me happy. My BFA allows me to get an MFA or and MA. (Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts or a Master of Arts in Education. Hell, I can even get an MBA if I want.
The MFA allows me to teach at Art Schools
the MA allows me to teach in K-12 schools
Not what I had in mind, not at all.
I was going to have a studio loft in New York with a bathtub for a coffee table/kitchen table. I was also going to have unfinished brick walls with messy mortar and a concrete floor.
My industrial elevator would allow me to park my Ranchero or El Camino at the back of my shop, or in the first floor vacant apartment. No one wanted to live on the first floor due to security issues. My neighbors and I would all be artists and I would be called upon to do repairs as I was to work as the building maintenance supervisor in between art gallery shows of my metal work. Toilets, sinks, gas lines and changing tires. Notice that nowhere in this description did I mention children or gardening.
Somehow I managed to do the same thing except, I never moved to New York, I gave up my corporate job in California and moved back to my not so liberal, not so female rights friendly state, I built my husband’s business, that consisted of me as the office/maintenance/web designer/photographer/media relations/correspondence/contract writer and constant student of business with sharks as clients.
From 1996-2002, I had three babies before giving birth to Girly a year and a half ago, never got the El Camino, continued to weld, repaired the plumbing in our house and building, joined a community singing group (which pissed off my husband to no end,) created a metal studio in the family business, had private students who were scared away by my husband’s hostility, bought a mini station wagon and a pickup truck.
During the divorce, he presented the pick up truck to me with a broken back window. He refused to have it repaired, though it was insured so I forced him (through the courts) to pay for the repair deductible as I had already called the insurance company to have the window replaced.
All of this was enough to fragment a portion of me that was constantly depressed and somewhere in the middle of all of this around 2008, I had a major depressive episode with the occasional setback in 2011, 2012, 2014. By the way, without insurance, you can’t be admitted to a psychiatric ward unless you admit that you are trying to hurt yourself or others. I’m a loophole. I learned to throw papers and socks when I got angry. It made him laugh until I threw a stapler at the wall after he walked out of the room. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a funny little incident with me, nauseous up on a forklift where he refused to let me down until I verbally abused the forklift driver -not my husband- until he let me down.)
Did I forget to mention that I have phobias on my phobias? I’m afraid of heights, spiders, water and large dogs, but I will do work that I don’t want employees to get injured while at work. I felt I was less necessary than an employee that could fall off a ladder or scaffolding, then sue us into the ground, leaving my children homeless, so I was expendable.
Big RED FLAG! I felt I was worthless. I also became known as “fearless leader.” Ask me about shrink wrapping a building during 12 mile per hour winds. The employees were afraid to talk to me about raises, because I “supposedly was intimidating” since I wore the pants in the family. My ex told me that our gender roles were reversed.
I looked at him and said, “Then fix it. Stop spending three hours each night cooking from scratch while drinking. Your application for martyrdom has been revoked. Go take business classes, learn to type, use your text to type software that I bought for you, stop lying to clients and write your own effing contracts and while you’re at it go mow the damn lawn, plow the drive way and shovel off the roof when we have blizzards and clean up raw sewage when the septic tank gets an air bubble. Take the kids to the dentist, doctors and get their eyes checked regularly, fill out all the school forms, go to the school conferences, get them in extra curricular activities and help them with their homework. Quit telling me I’m not doing enough. Just because you cook and vacuum does not make you an equal partner. Scrub the walls in the kitchen once in a while and disinfect the bathroom, so it doesn’t look like a public toilet at a rest stop.”
I was not exactly one to mince words at the end. Gardening was the beginning of my salvation. He would argue with me at home before going to work, so I would garden for four hours before going to work. My therapist agreed that he was an ass, so she suggested that I avoid being around him unless absolutely necessary. When I finished gardening, I was to take a long bath, gird my loins, then go to work for battle. That was if I could find my keys. He would play this funny game, every morning my keys would be NOT WHERE I PUT THEM, the night before. It usually took an hour to find them every day. This went on for three years. I would work four hours a day until I couldn’t take it then walk out. Abuse is abuse. I told him to hire a replacement, but he claimed poverty. He just like to argue with me. It was proof of his love for me. Sick bastard.
I am now a mother of four.
I love my children.
I am repairing the relationship with my eldest, he moved in this April.
(Yes, he beat the crap out of me during the marriage in front of his father.
His father blamed me for it.) The goal now is for him to graduate, so I can’t move out of this town until he graduates and gets a job.
I am now officially disabled due to my mental and physical conditions. I passed all the tests Social Security and Disability could provide.I get money to help my children buy clothing, shoes and pay for some extracurricular activities.
My medical bills may or may not be covered by Medicare.
My prescriptions may or may not be covered by Wellcare.
I’m leaving out the negatives, because this the positive portion of my diatribe.
I will be moving out of a 600 square foot house into a 3500 square foot house with a three car garage that will serve as my welding studio. I have developed half-self esteem, that falters often, but I can’t do better yet.
Time will help me heal. I’m still waiting for my PTSD diagnosis to go with my MDD, AD, PD and ADHD. My new psychiatrist believes me and my unbelievable life story. I’m finally back on my pre-pregnancy meds, that keep me stable and moving in the right direction.
I have a barrier that I keep around me to keep me safe. When someone crosses the line, I verbally check the intruder and escort them from the premises. This is my self respect. I don’t like being confrontational, but my doormat days are over.
Happy Mother’s Day everyone!
* The image above is from yesterday’s Mother’s Day brunch I attended with Girly, my eldest and my mom.