anger

TOUCHED

I walked into my brother’s shop after class.  I was an adult “non-traditional” student in my early 30s at the local university.  I remember riding in the back seat of our family car as a young girl, and while the campus was a fixture in our small town, it seemed a world away.  I wondered what it would be like, to be one of the young women there and yet miraculously for me,  I   became one of them.

My brother asked “how was class,’ and we exchanged small talk when he began discussing the difficulties his son was having in school:

“You know, Dad and I were talking the other day, and we agreed you and Daniel have a touch of the same thing…”

I was shocked. I didn’t respond verbally.  Silence is my usual response.

Now I can see that even then, I had a lot to prove, though education was for my own sake, for my own desire for learning.  But simultaneously there was a tab to pay, a peg to move one step ahead in effort find myself on home base. Obviously, I am not even in the game, or at least, that is how I felt in that moment.  His words hit a nerve- for all my learning, for all I have overcome, his view of me was incredulous.  Not only that, he and my dad seemed to agree on the fact.

I’ve always admired my brother.  If he had self-doubt, he didn’t show it.  He was always of good humor, level-headed, an intelligent, straight A student and when we were kids, engrossed in sports.  I thought he had the better of things  being a boy, and for a short time, I dressed like him, wanted to play on his ball teams- even one summer I practiced catching ball thinking I would join his all-boys team.   I wanted the acceptance, admiration and success he had. I tried to model myself after him, and he never knew.  We had many fun times together.

(Did he really say that?)

“You know, Dad and I were talking the other day, and we agreed you and Daniel have a touch of the same thing…”

A touch.

A little thing resulting in a great divide.

I am sure he was referring not only to our similar learning difficulties, but also our personalities and behaviors to some degree.  When I was around my nephew’s age, I experienced what the family jokingly refers now as “the dark years.”

I can laugh at that most of the time, but they truly were dark, and back then it wasn’t very funny.  I think his ability to classify it in such creative, dramatic terms is the kicker.  Most of the time I laughed, but one time I responded, saying they actually were very dark and I wasn’t in the mood to laugh about it.

When I left..

It was a long time coming.

You should have known, but you didn’t think I had the guts to do it.

How many times did you you say you wanted out?

Maybe the time I didn’t want to go to town at 11 pm, which I quietly expressed, being wrapped up in an art project.  My saying so was a challenge to you;  I think it represented other aspects of our lives that you were unhappy with.  You wouldn’t lay a hand on me, but you gave me your best intimidation:  Your black, unblinking eyes steady as you charged into my personal space- just close enough to mean business.   Then, you threatened to rip my painting- All because I asserted an opinion.

I made sure to do it gently too, so there could be no accusation of “rebellion.”

You yelled,  you clinched your fists,  packed a bag or two, and I watched from a window as you tossed them onto the back seat of the car.  I think you circled around the block a few times while I called my sister at 1 o’clock in the morning, terrified.

I  tried to hold my calm- which you always hated.  You said more than once I should express my feelings differently  because I appeared lackadaisical and uncaring.  But we both know that wasn’t always the case.

I asked myself once again: Why do I continually encounter this episode with men?

Before going to my sister’s house for the night, I have to say I was truly afraid, unsure of what you might do.  I had experienced occasional hurt when you were overcome with a meanness that wouldn’t rest until I had tasted the bitterness of it, and tears…that seemed to be the objective.  Once fulfilled,  you withdrew in shameful repentance after a revelation from God that I hadn’t done anything to deserve such treatment, that you ought to have behaved better.

As years passed, and after many more words and irrational confrontations, I became numb.

When you said “I don’t think I want to be married to you anymore,”  and how I had been a lousy wife, something changed in me that instant.  I never quite got over that.

Later, When I said I wanted a separation, you came up with things like:

“Your credit isn’t good enough..”  (It was excellent, in fact).

“You cant make it on your own..” (I have).

The only sad moment was your shock, when you slowly fumbled your way toward  me with genuine tears and said:

“Don’t leave me…”

Pictures of you as a toddler came to mind, because you looked vulnerable like that little boy.  I saw you as human, not

my husband.

I stayed for a long time…17 years- because I believed in marriage.  I left for the same reason.  I knew your religious belief would never allow you to leave.  After our divorce, you informed me the international headquarters of your church had a file of my behaviors and my leading the divorce, which cleared you of any fault, and free to pursue ministry.  I knew that would be the case.  Make the most of it.  Divorce was the best decision I ever made.

BUT no, it wasn’t easy.

Sickness

I’ll enjoy several “feel good” days, during which she’s just  a long- lost memory.   Sometimes, I’m wound up in her grip like a possessed lover.  After a long absence she creeps up on me- a reminder I’m not alone and shouldn’t be so cocky.

As she closes in, my mind winds down and changes focus, and my body begins to slow- when movement becomes intentional.  My breath is shallow; my heart feels as if it is resting just above my chest, ready to float away and like most things,  just beyond my grasp.    Sometimes I can distance myself from her with laughter, or I’ll occupy my thoughts with busy or creative tasks.  Exercise works wonders.  Other times she slowly expands to fill every crevice of my being and all I am conscious of is her presence. I have only one question:  “How long will she stay this time around?”

I sleep to forget her,  to medicate, or I sleep with the hopes of resetting myself to a time when she didn’t exist.    She is my alter ego, my nemesis, a weighted companion who is aggressive and strong in every way that I am not, and any effort to thrive prompts her challenge.  She digs inside her iron heels and catches every fiery arrow I launch, which she swiftly breaks and tosses to the ground.

On the darkest days, she walks fast on my heels, spewing all sorts of ungodly filth and accusations,  and sin-eater that I am, I take in every bite.
She used to be so angry;   now she sits, reeking of boredom while keeping time with the tap of a finger.

Something about her presence though;  her very being requires my short supply of energy.  But as powerful as she is, I know she’s there, and  knowing is everything.