5:55 PM, New Year’s Eve, it was cold outside and lightly snowing. I held my work phone to transmit via landline the days orders, returns, and comments on the accounts that I had taken care of that day at work.￼￼ I had only until 6 o’clock p.m. to get everything transmitted. Rushing, I grabbed the phone wire and put it into my work phone and was having a difficult time trying to attach the other side to my home phone line￼. Frustrated with the process and not wanting to miss a deadline and realizing that this could have been transmitted over two hours ago, I bent down and crouched by the side of my couch to move the heavy wooden end table out-of-the-way so I could better see the face plate of the phone jack. No dust, no dirt, I remember being satisfied that at least while my life was falling apart, I was able to keep my home clean. Looking at the scratches on my side table, I made a mental note to get the furniture stain marker when I finished transmitting ￼the data.
5:58 PM. Frantically I was trying to get the wire into the faceplate and I was finally able to. I began giving my work phone the proper commands to transmit. Looking to the side of the couch, I looked up and outside of the window, pitch black but I could see the stars.￼￼
5:59 PM. The commands that I was putting into my phone were not working. I had done this hundreds of times￼. What was wrong?! I remember feeling frustrated, but the frustration was not from work. The frustration knowing that Joey had left work at 3 o’clock that afternoon and was only working 45 minutes away. Calling him the phone would ring once and then it would go to voicemail. Thinking perhaps it was an issue with reception, I called again and this time, straight to voicemail again. I remember looking down at my cell phone and I remember staring at my BlackBerry buttons. I remember noticing the little crevices of the phone. “God please no.”, I prayed silently as my eyes closed and began to burn. My ever familiar call. My go to phrase with God – my war cry my entire life. But every time I said, “God no.” He didn’t listen and it was getting harder to open my mouth – it was getting harder to even voice the words. At times I felt like I was suffocating from the perpetual ￼stream of kicks to my trust. I opened my eyes wide to prevent even one tear from coming down my eyes but it did not work. Tears began streaming down my face onto my BlackBerry. I was there in that moment, but I was not there. My physical body was present. I was just an entity. My mind felt like it was going to explode￼. I was just done. I was tired.
I could hear the kids upstairs playing and giggling. My heart filled with so much happiness and I would have those moments of happiness that would bring light into a chaotic black ocean where I was floating through the days, letting the ocean take and bring me back onto shore on it’s own tide schedule – where I had given the life preserver back to God￼. ￼Why wasn’t I drowning? I wanted anchors around my ankles. I wanted to be submerged in darkness. God would never let me go. He insisted on keeping me in this hell. “You love me, huh, God? What a joke.”, I said as I looked at my drenched BlackBerry￼￼￼.
The phone rang. Joey. What was the excuse going to be this time? I wondered before I picked up the phone, but in reality, I didn’t care, because he was calling and he was coming home and it was New Year’s Eve. We were going to have the most happiest New Year’s Eve, with Chinese food, with laughter, with fun movies, with being the kind of family that you would see in a Sears catalog. Yes, that is how my 2005 was going to end and my 2006 would be brought in with a new start. Once that clock struck 12:00 AM, new life, new me, new husband, new family, yes, that’s how it was going to be. Disillusioned idealism.￼￼
“Hey honey, sorry, I had to bring my boss home because his car would not start. “Joey said. Thinking about the Chinese food and how it had been sitting on the counter for an hour and how the kids had been waiting in their pajamas after they took a bath and awaited to watch Jurassic Park while eating their favorite chicken fingers and boneless spare ribs. I held the phone to my ear and stared at the wall. I wanted to blink but the lies that were coming through the phone were eternal verities and my eyes were excavating the truth in his deluge of forgery.
“Sounds good Joey. See you soon.”, I said.
￼ Walking over to the window I ran my finger down the sheer curtain, feeling the material and closing my eyes I was thinking about the Summer to come and when the windows would be open again. I only hung sheer curtains in my home because I like how the sun filters through the curtains transparent fabric. The way that the wind choreographs￼ an aerial waltz ￼of the fabric. Where are you God? What is going on? How much more God? I can’t do this anymore. Tears began to brim over my eyes and I took a deep breath and exhaled. I had to get myself together. I had two children that were excited about New Year’s Eve, a husband that would be touching me soon knowing that he had just been touching someone else and I needed to put on an impenetrable disposition.
I had to hold it together for everyone in that house. A Japanese method called ￼￼￼￼￼Kintsugi became my non-physical ￼￼￼amalgamated mechanism of ￼￼fixing myself.
I played by the rulebook my whole life. I was 30 and I was tired.
Joey comes walking through the front door with a smile on his face and says hello to me. I said hello back to him, hugged him and asked how his day was. He said, “Good”, as he always did. “The kids are excited about tonight and as soon as you would like to, we can eat our dinner.”, I said.
“I’m going to go take a shower.” Joey said. ￼
5:30 p.m. Joey comes downstairs and we all say a prayer together before we start to eat our dinner and watch Jurassic Park. The kids were so excited and I could see their gleaming little teeth, all smiles. What joy these kids brought to me.
I made plates for everyone and Joey started the movie. I was not very hungry but to be hospitable, I took a little bit of food￼. Joey looked tired, and I remember going over to him and sitting on the couch behind him as he was sitting on the floor and I began to massage his shoulders. He looked at me from the side and smiled and I smiled back at him. I was going to make the best of it, like I did with every single thing in life. Walking away from my marriage vocation was becoming harder because I knew that I got married for better or worse and I knew what my vows were. Sometimes I remembered feeling so frustrated at loving God so much that I could never turn my face away from Him and just get up a leave my husband and on that evenin￼g I didn’t want there to be any arguments for the sake of our children.
I remember the fear growing up and hearing my parents fighting all of the time and being so afraid. I remember sitting on my bed at night and looking out my open window as a child when the weather would permit it and I would get lost in the stars and I would get lost in the moon and I would listen to the trees and the wind and I didn’t know what made all of that so fascinating to me, but those moments, not understanding it then – but knowing it now, were some and are still some of the most spiritual moments of my life because it has always been that in nature, since I have been a little girl, that I am most connected to God. As an adult I realize that now, but as a child I just knew that the elements of the world and in nature is where I was the most free, it is where I felt the safest, it is where I felt the most alive, it is this overtaking of being in a heightened sense of God in everything and everywhere and it is nothing that I could ever describe in words, as I am struggling to do right now. I used to walk through fields of wheat as a child in my free time and have my hands out by my side and I would purposefully￼feel the wheat physically in my hands and there was this connection. I would go next to bodies of water, my favorite being water going over rocks, bubbling brooks and streams. I would find myself purposefully seeking out bodies of water to just be in the presence of God. To Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist and￼￼￼ being in front of the Tabernacle￼, being in nature is where He is all consuming.
“I have to go to transmit the end of the year work orders before 6:00 p.m.”, I told Joey.￼￼
I walked into the den and began to perform the same routine that I did day in and day out. I remember one last struggle with the phone wire and I finally took it out and plugged it back into the landline phone. In less than 30 seconds after I plugged ￼the wire into the phone the phone rang￼￼.
6:00 p.m. “Hello? “, I said into the phone. “Hello, this is Erica from Joey’s work, there is an emergency and I was wondering if I could speak to him.” Said a young woman’s voice through the phone￼. I instantly knew that something was not correct but because I did not know for sure, I pushed the thoughts to the side. “Please hold while I get him.”
I walked to the door and called out to Joey that somebody from his job was on the phone. Joey said “Excuse me? “I repeated myself again and he said okay￼￼. I asked him if he was going to pick it up in the other room and he said yes.
I stood looking at the cream colored receiver which I had put down on the mahogany table. I grabbed the phone and put my hand over the receiver so my breath could not be heard. My heart was racing because I knew that if there was an issue a supervisor would’ve been calling and not another employee. ￼
“Joey are you coming tonight? ” the women said on the other end. ￼￼￼
“Who is this? “, Joey asked to the person on the other line she repeated her name again and said “Joey, it’s Erica, Kate is wondering if you’re coming tonight.￼”
I remember looking down to the table. I wanted to run and I didn’t know where to but my legs would not move. I began to shake.￼￼￼￼￼￼
I quietly put the receiver back down, ever so gently and I don’t know why because I wanted to hit the phone with the phone receiver.￼ I backed up into the wall and stood there feeling the coldness of the wall. I was trying to take everything in mentally because emotionally by being was not going to touch it in that moment. I remember I opened and closed my eyes a few times because my mind was trying to comprehend what I had just heard. Everything that I had thought was going on for months to a year was actually happening.
I walked out of the room without transmitting my work that day. I walked out of the den. I walked through the hallway staring at the gleaming wood floors, through the kitchen with the beautiful porcelain tile and then I walked into the sitting room where Joey was just hanging up the phone￼.
His back to me, I watched him turn around to face me. “Who is Kate?” I asked Joey. Joey just stood and looked at me. I asked him calmly again, “Who is Kate?” No response. “Joey I’m going to ask you again, who is Kate?” This time I put my face down to the ground and inhaled deeply because I could feel myself becoming frustrated with knowing and remembering how many times that he had lied to me telling me that he loved me and he would never cheat on me. ￼￼ “She’s just someone who I work with￼￼.” Joey said. I asked him, “And where are you supposed to be going tonight with Kate, Joey?” ￼”What are you talking about Melissa?!” He said. I walked right up to him and I slapped him right across his face. “You son of a bitch. You bastard.” I calmly said it to him.
I remembered when my mother was having a bad day as a child and I knew she was going to hurt me, I would never cry in front of her because I would never give her that satisfaction and I was in that mindset at that moment.
“How could you?! “I looked at him and began to raise my voice￼. “Melissa, what are you talking about?” It was in that moment that I knew that if I did not leave that house that I was going to completely lose it and I knew that I could not do that in front of my children on New Year’s Eve￼. I refused to coddle my own fatigue and hurt at the risk of my children having bad memories of holidays with their mom and their dad.
“Joey please stop with the mind games. Please.” I asked him again, remembering that the kids were just a few rooms away.￼
Any interior and exterior walls that I put up to protect myself my entire life, in that one moment, a bulldozer came through and destroyed any kind of safety net that I had around me. I remembered feeling so naked, so exposed￼. I felt so dirty remembering the times that I had let him touch me and pretending that what I knew was happening was not happening. I wanted to go take a shower so badly to get the dirt off of my conscience that had been eating away at me knowing that I knew for close to a year that the man who said he would always protect me, the man who gave me two children, the man that has hurt me like no man ever has in my life, was the man that God had chosen for me. It was like it was some kind of a cruel joke. Like it was an “aha” moment. The devil in that moment knew that I had come undone because I showed him that I had. Because I didn’t care anymore. I never broke the rules in life. I was the good girl, playing it safe but I remember the feeling of the devil knowing that I had come undone because it was the same feeling that I had when I was a child and I drew into Atheism. And in a strange way, it was welcoming because I knew I was never going to have to answer to God again in this Earthly life. Answer to God who told me that He loved me and that He was going to protect me and asked me so many times to hold on for my mother, to hold on for my family, hold on for my husband, to hold on for this one, and hold on for that one, and what about me? When was He ever holding on for me? He was protecting everybody else around me but He was never protecting me.￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
I heard the kids moving around in the living room. I looked into my husband’s eyes as I stood in front of him, “I don’t know where I’m going tonight, but I need to get away from here. I do not want our children to know what is going on. If you do not see me for a few days, someone will let you know where I am￼.” I said.
He looked at me and became quiet. I wanted Armageddon to come, something to knock that silence out of from that room in that moment because reality needs a sustaining breath and it only hurt when I breathed.
￼”Honey, I love you.” Joey said. I looked at him. “I have to go.” I told him.
I walked upstairs into my bedroom and grabbed my purse, my cigarettes and I walked into the bathroom and threw up the Chinese food that I had just eaten. My body was refusing to keep anything down in that moment. With tears streaming down my eyes, I put on my flip-flops that were in the closet, not thinking about the winter snow that was outside￼￼￼￼￼ and made my way out of the house, on that snowy evening with no jacket on, my children inside, knowing that they would not be having an ice cream sundae with their mom that night and us hugging and kissing each other as we always did, every year to bring in the new year.￼
As I pulled out of the driveway, I had never been so broken in my entire life. As I was driving, the nausea was becoming so bad that I had to pull over in the snow and I threw up again and then got back into my car. I began driving towards the ocean. ￼
… to be continued