The Day He Walked Out For Good

I remember that Sunday afternoon like it was yesterday and not 15 years ago. That Saturday we went to Synagogue like we did every Shabbat morning. C and I sat in our regular seats surrounded by all our friends. M went to Tot Shabbat with all her friends and I remember holding his hand and playing with the fringes on his Talit that morning. It really is amazing how when your world is about to come crashing down around you that every detail becomes so vivid.

The thing was everything had become just fine. I use to say to my closest friend S I lowered my expectations and she would counter with not lowered changed. Changed or lowered does it really matter at a certain point, you just exist in a bubble of time. C and I existed. We never fought, we just existed.

I had my life and he had his.

You see, three years before C wanted to separate and he told me while I was on a educators seminar in Washington DC. I had my first of what would become a struggle with panic attacks in my life. The tightening in your chest, the can’t breathe feeling that comes either from a heart attack or panic. I left the seminar and came home. I begged him, to go into therapy before he just walked out the door. I guess he realized that with no notice of any real issues, that he at least owed therapy a chance. Therapy seemed to help him feel more content, I actually except for eating everything in sight had no clue how truly unhappy I was. I had an incredible daughter that I wanted more than anything in the world, friendships that were loving and supportive and my family surrounding me that played a vital role in my life.

The duh factor of being so heavy didn’t quite make it to my brain yet.

We came home from shul and C very nonchalantly says ”I am meeting my brother to talk, I’ll be back tomorrow.” Ok! He says his brother needs to talk about his marriage to J. It was a beautiful day M and I went to the park met up with all our friends. Which we did every Shabbat afternoon. The guys played basketball, the kids played in the park and my friends and I just talked about life, the kids or whatever. But, I didn’t share that C took off to meet his brother. But why, I told S and S everything they were my closest friends. C never came after Shul to play basketball and hang out.

He didn’t like sports didn’t understand the camaraderie of just hanging and instead preferred on Shabbat afternoon to sit at home and do nothing. Well, you can’t do that with a child, but she wasn’t the priority.

So he had his life and we had ours. We co-existed. I learned to have no expectation of him and I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Even writing it down makes me sad. No expectations for my husband, for the father of my child. But it worked.

I went to Sunday school, the next day my mom came to watch M. My mom came every Sunday morning to watch her. They had such a special relationship. She didn’t go to Sunday school because I felt it really wasn’t fair to my students nor to her. With her day school education, she could run circles around my religious school students and I didn’t want to tell her to not be enthusiastic about what she knows, but my kids would just not be able to compete.

When I got back from Sunday school my mom left and I realize now that I often chose to live in a place of oblivion. Sometimes it is to block out the bad things that have already happened or live in a place of denial. However, I chose to take C at his word that he was meeting his brother about his marriage and not about ours.

However, my world was about to be changed forever!

He came home and we went to talk in our room. He very calmly without an ounce of emotion says. He wants a “trail” separation and has already rented an apartment in Evanston and it so happens in our old building on Prairie. But not just our old building but our apartment. For whatever reason, that hurt a lot. Why go back to the place that we were the happiest? Why go to the area that I love so much? Because it is only about his needs and desires never about mine.

He was laying across the bed as he spoke and I said this is not a trial separation. I had told him three years ago when he did this before that if he ever asked to separate again that we would be getting a divorce.

I said it without any emotion without yelling and just as a point of fact.

I know now, that he was relieved that I kept my word about getting divorced if he asked to separate again. I was just not going to put myself through this again.

He wanted to wait to tell M, which of course is C’s MO. He was hoping I would just do it for him. It was most likely the one and only time that I didn’t clean up his mess. But the next evening he came home from work we sat down together and he began.

He hemmed and he hawed and poor M looked to me to explain. I tried to let him explain. Finally, I stepped in a little and just kept saying Mommy and Abba love you very much. She still called him Abba but stopped soon after.

We will always love you, you know the typical psychologist bs. Earlier in the day, I called Jewish Family Services set up appointments for her to meet with a therapist. I called Mark my attorney and got the ball rolling to file for the dissolution of our marriage.

We all deal with hard times in different ways and my type A personality makes me have to get down to business. So that I don’t fall apart.

Finally, the words came out of his mouth “I’m moving out.” She sits and just starts to whimper. I don’t think I will ever forget that moment sitting in our living room, and even as I write this so many years later the lump in my throat is still just as tight. A few moments later she gets up says to him that she needs to go into her bedroom. As we sit in the house hearing her crying in her room but also rustling around. I just say I hope that this makes you happy. She is five years old and still has a maturity about her that knows that she somehow needs to keep it somewhat together.

You are destroying her.

When I went to Barnes and Noble earlier in the day to try to find books on divorce for my child each one was about mommy and daddy fighting and it is better if they don’t fight anymore.

Well, she never saw us fighting, she saw parents who went to services every Shabbat together and had Friday dinner with the whole family. So, parents getting divorced just didn’t make sense because the books just talked about fighting.

She comes out of her room with 5 pictures of herself. She later told me that she looked for pictures that I wasn’t in because she knew that was better. She gave them to C so he would remember what she looked like when he was in his new apartment.

How did this beautiful little soul know that he would be an absentee father how did she know that I would be there but she would always be worried if he would show up for a school function or dance shows or just his regular visits?

C and our babysitter S the babysitter she had since she was born were together, was it since M was three the first time he asked to separate or did it start with this separation. Does it matter how long they were together?

What always mattered and still matters to this day is that M always came last in there world and it hurt my heart. I usually didn’t care, I just picked up the pieces as much as I could, where he dropped them. But here is the truth, it did matter and I should have never let him off the hook.

It hurt me and it hurt our child and that is unforgivable.