It’s Friday. I am staring at the clock outside my office, counting that I only have 2 more hours here. And then the weekend. Then quiet and solitude and being alone. Writing, watching movies, prepping for next week. But I cannot handle what is happening north of me. Where my partner is. Where my parents are. The walls are cracking again, and I do not want to, cannot, be drawn into this drama. I am trying to hold it together. I have a big week, next week. I cannot handle the bullshit I am hearing.
Yesterday, when I arrived home, I had an email from my sister telling me that my father is meeting with a lawyer to discuss selling the Island. Has he even considered signing the deed over to one of us? No, all the history of the place will be lost. All the buildings which have withstood years of winter and summer storms will be bulldozed and the land will be cut into lots. It will become just another place. No longer a haven. No longer a retreat. No longer a setting where our memories are stored, but rather where others will make their own. It is a dagger in my heart. I hate him for this. And I know why he is doing it. He is irate that his wife has caused his life to change. He is more distraught that the dog is dying than the fact that her life is fading. He is avoiding, in denial. I am sure that somewhere in there may lurk grief, but more for himself and the four-legged creature he knows will never question him.
And now my partner. God, when it rains, it pours, doesn’t it? All damn week he has been playing Sam Spade, trying to determine what I might be doing all by myself. This is common on the days he does not have his son. On the days he is alone. He is not a solo creature. He does not understand my need to refuel after a day or a week of working around people. All he thinks about is himself, alone, going stir crazy and making up ideas in his head which lead to the QUESTIONS. The endless fucking questions. “Why am I so tired?” “Have I been drinking?” “What other jobs am I applying for?” which means another move, for HIM. Enough. Or so I thought.
I started the day telling him he had to stop questioning everything that I do when he is not here. I said it gently (of course) and he seemed to grasp it. But then the explosion. He is irate that his mother isn’t following the protocol he would when dealing with a situation up there. She is doing it her way. She is not perfect. It is not the way I would do it, nor him. And this pisses him off. Lack of control. Something we all want, and none of us have over others. And thus, he calls me at work after an email she sent did not please him. He began calling her crazy, insane, that she has “lost it”. My mind raced over and over that my mother has “lost it” – her mind is leaving her and her body is following, so how can I not be affronted that he is consumed with his fairly healthy mom? I finally said “at least she’s not as bad off as mine”, but that was promptly ignored, as the retort was “have you read what she said???????” Yes, in bold and italics – we need those here. He was yelling so loudly that I had to take the phone away from my ear and hold it an arm’s length away. And then I hung up on him.
I am buried in work. I am desperately trying to stay focused on a 200-page document that is one of the most boring things I have dealt with. But I have a deadline. I also have deadlines piling up throughout the coming month, and most of my co-workers are on vacation. We are bare-bones for a few weeks. While I am at work, I am at work. I do not want to be interrupted by temper tantrums, or having my words twisted so it sounds as if I am not “listening”, being “empathetic”, or understanding what he may be going through. I get it. Probably a lot more than you do. But your first reaction is hair-trigger, and if you follow through while you’re this upset, you will disrupt the entire apple cart.
But that reasoning won’t do a thing…
He and my father are so alike in many ways. Both stubborn as shit. Both consumed with themselves first and everyone else after. Or at least it feels this way as I pound these words out on the page. I know how much he has done for me. I appreciate all of it – his love, his forgiveness, his help during times when I have desperately needed it. He has been my hero over and over again. But when he begins acting like a 5-year old having a temper tantrum, I simply shutdown. It is too much like the ass that I dated in my 20’s. He is too loud and impassioned and irrational. I refuse to listen to this, not here and not at home. I cannot do anything within my power to change his mother, or him. And I don’t want to. I want him to put on his big boy pants and figure it out in a calm manner, but perhaps he just doesn’t have that in him.
So, why do I stay?
Because every time these outbursts happen I am halfway gone. I shut down. I shut him out. I refuse to be a participant in any of these fits of anger. I have my own anger, buried deep inside – perhaps as deep as the earth’s core – but as a woman, I have learned to mitigate it. We were never allowed to show rage, have outbursts, act “crazy” growing up, even when we wanted to. No, we had to be perfect. And so that is my armor. Perfection. Silence. No confrontations.
And now he is pissed at me and everyone else in his goddamn world. He is unhappy with his life. Well, join the club. A lot of us are. At least you don’t have a disease that makes you paranoid and anxious every morning when you get out of bed and have to take pills all day long just to feel somewhat sane. At least you don’t have a mother who will probably die in the next 6 months and a father who could care less (well, you do have the latter but he hasn’t been in the picture for most of your life). At least you have a place where there are memories, that is not being sold and destroyed. So, I’m sorry if I can’t feel that empathetic toward what you may be feeling right now, what you are going through with this latest outburst. But don’t put in on me. Don’t bring me into it, expecting me to sympathize with you when you are screaming so loud you are breaking my eardrums. This is probably the first day since I began working here that I am grateful my office is so far away from everyone else. So no one hears.
And maybe, I’ll never hear from him again. At least not for the rest of the day. And for the moment, that is just fine with me. Because I have always said he will be my last relationship. After this, I am getting a dog. Not to be like my father. But to have a companion, and one that doesn’t scream or throw things. One that is just there, that will make me feel safe all the time. Who will allow me to get out of my own bubble and experience the greater world.
Or perhaps I just need to leave. Sell everything. Move to my own island that I find, somewhere out there. Because there isn’t a lot holding me here right now. Other than these words that I get out on the page.
© Sorrow & Kindness