A Game of Truth or Dare
I wonder now why I went looking.
Instinct or fear.
I lay my eyes on the jumble of war trophies: PO box key, receipts for furniture, the preliminary divorce agreement. FUCK. Divorce?! I am about to be dealt the ‘Go to Jail. Do not pass Go’ card and I didn’t even see it coming. How is that possible?
An invoice flutters to the floor and I bend down and pick it up. Apparently my marriage is worth $1186. The next legal appointment is in a few weeks’ time, at which point ‘you will have discussed the proposed arrangement and will have received consent for the division of assets as stipulated in the attached document’.
The angry panic ratchets up a notch.
I count forward from the date on the receipts. The lounge is another eight weeks away. I frantically paw back through the wad of paperwork looking for any evidence of a house to put said lounge in. Nothing. Phew, there is still time to prevent this, I just have to keep my shit together.
My chest and belly are on fire; the burning so intense that not even my insides want to be in there. It’s a toss up between passing out and vomiting. Vomiting wins.
The weeks tick by, and ‘going through the motions’ is a gross understatement; there is nothing unconscious about each day as it lurches into the next. Time seems to elongate and this only magnifies the impending doom that is bearing down on me. I can’t remember when I last took a deep breath. I try to paper over every quavering word and tremor of hand with mindless chatter about the banality of everyday life.
‘I spoke with your mother today and she can have the kids for us while we go to dinner on Saturday. Will I let Kate know?’ ‘What do you feel like for dinner?’ ‘The windows need cleaning and I booked them in for Friday. Are you going to be home?’
Each question a small bid for intimacy, each question chipping away at his tolerance.
I am desperate to scream and shove and rage, but I am keenly aware that I mustn’t let on, for fear that doing so will fast forward us to the end, and I am not ready for that. Equally, I know that I must act with haste in order to change the outcome. The internal battle plays out across my drawn face. The only thing I am absolutely certain of is that I don’t want a broken family and, in these critical moments, I must make the right choices to prevent that from happening.
What am I going to do about what I saw?
Perhaps it is the hushed sobbing in the shower that eventually exhausts the words out of me. That, or Dutch courage, but on an unremarkable night in April I raise the topic of our marriage with carefully chosen words.
Hedges are bet and some truths are laid bare.
Thus begins the dismantling of ‘life as we know it’.
Denial masked as hope is a beautiful thing isn’t it? It makes us completely disregard anything that doesn’t fit into our current reality and fools us into believing that if we click our red glittery shoes we will be back in the safety of Kansas. In short, we see only what we want to see. That is until our gaze is forced upon the unfolding drama; rubber-necking on the car crash of our own lives.
12 years. 6 houses. 3 cities. 2 children. The numbers testament to the solidarity of our marriage. Right?
The creeping realisation that the months of counselling may be for naught – that it was all just a masquerade to appease guilt – is devastating. I am beginning to see that the chance of coming out of this whole is about as likely as a fat kid winning the cross-country.
John Travolta’s character in Pulp Fiction has some relevant words of wisdom on this matter:
‘Did you ever hear the philosophy that once a man admits he’s wrong, that he is immediately forgiven for all wrongdoings?’
If only total honesty had been on offer.
If you liked this, click the 💚 below so other people will see this here on Medium.