The Day the Marriage Died
Up until now, everything I have posted has been recently written, almost 3 years since the end of my marriage. I recently went back and visited some of my earlier writings, drafted in the weeks and months after he left. I’ve decided to share some of that, to expose the raw underbelly of divorce. Please be aware that this writing has a different tone. The emotions and language are harsh as they capture my reaction on the day the marriage died.
Wellness is not measured by the amount of broccoli you eat or the number of miles you can run. It is not found in the number of punches on your yoga membership card or the double digits of your sit-up count. Wellness is not indicated by the reading of the blood pressure cuff or the size indicated on the label of your jeans.
I used to think I was well; I had all of the above mastered. My lean, muscled body spoke of the intense workouts it was subjected to along with the strict vegetarian diet that was used to fuel the exercise sessions. I awoke before dawn to ensure that I could fit a workout into my hectic schedule as a middle school teacher. I fit long runs in on open evenings or on the weekends. I watched everything I ate, avoiding meat and keeping a careful eye on the amount of fat consumed. My favorite way to spend the weekends was working in my extensive garden or going on long hikes in the nearby North Georgia mountains.
I used to think I was well. But, I wasn’t. All it took to strip away all of physical manifestations of health was a few short sentences. A text, sent across the country on a sunny Saturday afternoon, arriving unexpectedly on my phone.
July 11, 2009 12:38 p.m.
I’m sorry to be such a coward leaving you this way. I am leaving. Please reach out to someone let the dogs out as I am leaving the state. The code for the garage is 5914. I’m truly sorry but I can’t do this anymore. Please give me some time to come to terms with my decision. I will call you in a few days. I am sorry that I have failed you.
When two become ones, you are able to see yourself clearly.
Fear gripped. Legs collapsed. Brain stuttered. Lungs heaved. Gut clenched. Body trembled. World shattered. Visceral. Violent.
My father’s arms engulfed me as I lay shaking on the floor, my body and brain rebelling from my new reality.
“What can I do for you? Do you want me to call mom?” my dad offered, seeking for a way to comfort his only child.
“Yes, please,” I responded, forcing the words out through my locked lungs.
He reluctantly left me in a heap on the hallway floor in my aunt and uncle’s house as he moved to the dining room to make the call to my mother in Texas, whom he had divorced decades earlier.
My brain barely registered his soft, yet strained voice in conversation several feet away from me. My hands gripped my phone with urgency, willing it to send another message. Wanting this to be a mistake. A joke. Anything but real. A little anger pushed through the initial shock, enough for me to summon the courage to flip open the phone, using muscle memory trained over years to scroll down twelve names to Mr. T, the nickname he used to put himself in the phone he bought for me years before.
“Hello. You’ve reached T of MMS. I cannot come to the phone right now, but please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”
I took a deep breath and left a message, almost unintelligible through my tears, my shaking, and my heaving chest.
“T. I don’t understand. What is this? A text message? Sixteen years and a text message? Please don’t do this. Not like this. Call me. Please.”
I closed the phone, severing the connection.
It sat there silent. Taunting me. I opened it again, this time to send a text message.
What about the dogs? Are the dogs okay? Call me.
It remained silent, the screen dark.