Story Title: Her Lifeline
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I did not know where he was getting this.
“This isn’t about you or anything wrong with you. This is about me,” I told him. “It’s about what I want and need. This is about my the life I want right now.”
He listened, then he sighed. For a moment, his eyes teared up, but he recovered. Then, he spoke.
“It used to be that when I looked into your eyes every day, I saw the woman I fell in love with. Now, I don’t see her anymore. I don’t know where the woman inside there now came from. Maybe she was hidden there the whole time.
Frankly, I don’t really like that selfish woman. But it doesn’t matter.”
I took all that abuse without argument, hoping that he would get it out of his system so that we could really talk.
After pausing for a few moments, he continued, “Even if everything you have told me about never having cheated is true—and I have no real reason to believe you—then accepting your story means also accepting the simple fact that you lied to me. You actively told me something untrue to hide something important from me, and you lied by omission when you failed to share important information with me. You took yourself out of the marriage and made a decision for yourself alone. So, all I really know is that, at a moment of great stress, dealing with something of profound importance to us as a married couple—the birth of a child—you could not be bothered to talk to me because you did not trust me to be part of the decision. Everything else is a mere detail.”
That made me lose it.
“Really!” I yelled.
He looked at me without reaction, the same dead face.
“‘I don’t want to be a parent again’ should be enough of an answer for you,” I said. “That should be the end of the discussion!”
It felt like my eyes were flaming. He looked at me, and his façade broke slightly so that I could see a hint of sadness. Finally, he spoke.
“And ‘I don’t want to be married to you anymore’ should be enough of an answer for you. End of discussion. And right now, I am talking about what I want and need. See? I have a new life, too. So let me live it and love it.”
Kelly got up and walked out of the house without another word. He didn’t even bother closing the door.
I refused to sign the divorce papers. My husband refused to take my calls about trying to work things out. We were at an impasse but, of course, the clock was still ticking relentlessly to a one-year-separation divorce.
When I texted him about counseling, he replied, “‘I don’t want to go to counseling; I want a divorce’ should be enough of an answer for you. This is about what I want and need, remember? How do you like my new life?”
I started going to counseling myself and came to understand that I had been suffering from extended post-partum depression. I called my husband to tell him. He actually took the call, probably by accident. He did not react the way I had hoped.
“OK, so because you’ve gone crazy, you get a get-out-of-jail free card for everything that’s happened between us. Is that what you’re saying?”
“I’m not crazy. It’s depression. And it’s common. I just want you to understand.”
“I’m trying to, but it doesn’t sound to me like you were delusional when you got an abortion or that you were unable to tell what you were doing. In fact, you got yourself together sufficiently to go behind my back, make all the arrangements, and lie to me about what you were doing. I’m glad you figured out what your problem is before you tied our remaining child into your car seat and drove her into a river so that you don’t have to be a mommy anymore.”
“You’re being a insane,” I said.
“I am insane,” he repeated slowly and paused.
Then his voice brightened.
“No, that’s wrong,” he said. “I’ll tell you what’s going on. I just realized. I just had an epiphany. And I didn’t even have to pay a therapist for it. ‘I’m going through a selfish phase right now. Your selfishness has liberated me from giving a concern about your problems. I admit the timing is bad. For you anyway.”
He hung up. I just stared at my phone in shock, wondering where the nice guy I had married had gone.
When I saw reconciliation was going nowhere, I finally thought seriously about signing the divorce papers. It was a fair split of property without any alimony. The one wrinkle though was that, after our last call, my husband filed an emergency motion for full custody, arguing that I did not really want to be a mother in the first place, as evidenced by my time away from my daughter working and by my abortion, and that my admitted mental illness demonstrated that I posed a danger to the child.