Saturday, March 8, 2014

Chapter Three: Devastation, Part I: January 2010

January 9, 2010

I can’t sleep tonight. The discovery this morning is the last straw that broke my camel’s rose-colored glasses; smashed them to pieces. Yes, something else to find out about. What a fool I’ve been. How could I have been so stupid? The stupidest wife on the face of the earth. Yeah, that’s me.

I am heartbroken, inconsolable, in despair. Why am I surprised? If I would have let myself feel the true feelings of my soul, I would have inwardly died years ago. I saved face. I tried to save my family—keep it together, for the sake of the children.

Now they’re grown and gone, and I see our house crumbling, apparently built upon the sand. A blue phone, the harbinger of my betrayal.

I lay in bed this morning, unable to get up, my deliberation of the last few months weighing me down. That old familiar feeling of depression crept into my body, like vines crawling around me, encompassing me, smothering me.

No, I will not go there, I admonished myself. Too late, came the reply.

Loud, banging noises coming from the back yard had awakened me, I guess.

I decided I should pray, so I got out of bed and went down on my knees, entreating the Lord about my predicament—my marriage—asking my Heavenly Father what I should do. What could I do? How sad that I saw my marriage as a problem. Help me, Lord, I prayed.

The noises were so earsplitting they interrupted my prayers and I felt compelled to go into the back bedroom to see what Jerry was doing.

I will never doubt that my Heavenly Father is watching over me; that he knows me and loves me.

I crossed the hallway, my movements robotic, to the converted bedroom—his “man cave”—to see about the commotion. The loud noise, metal being ripped from wood, pierced my ears. Then it stopped.

I walked to the window, moved away the curtain, and saw him, leaning on his sledge hammer, taking a break, staring into the sky. After a month or so of persuading myself he had stopped his communication with her,  I could tell by his daydreaming, he hadn’t.

I sighed and stepped away from the window and took a minute to look around the room. Jerry had invited me to do just that a few weeks before. It’s furnished with an old love seat, a book shelf and a television. He also has his desk in there and all our files in a file cabinet.

On the book shelf  I noticed the little book I gave him when our daughter got married: “What is a Husband?” It’s tiny, pocket-sized, and decorated with illustrations of flowers and calligraphy. I gave it to him to honor him over a year ago. I don’t know why. He’s not sentimental in the least. Yet, there it stood prominently on that shelf. It surprised me to see it displayed, so I approached the shelves and handled the book, fingering through it.

When I replaced the tiny hardback, I looked around some more at the artwork on the walls: posters from cycling races we had attended. Sparsely decorated, I thought. Minimalist, just as he likes it.

The banging started up again. “Busy” could be his middle name. He never stands still—or sits still—for very long. He always has to be doing something. ADHD. It makes me look lazy by contrast, though I know I’m not.

I walked back to the door, but something prompted me to gaze around the room again. I noticed a blue cell phone sitting on that very same shelf as the little book. It was plugged in and charging, pulsing light. I walked slowly over to it. How did I miss it? Why hadn’t I noticed it the first time? I am so not observant. He didn’t tell me he got a new phone.

I picked it up to examine it and thought, it must be a new work phone. I flipped it open and saw a different number than the one he had previously. I thought, I can’t believe he didn’t tell me, his wife, he got a new cell phone number. When was he going to tell me?

Putting it back on the shelf, I started back to my bedroom, but once more, heeded a prompting to check out this new phone. I turned around, picked it up again and, easy to manipulate, pressed the buttons that led me to his messages.

Curious. There were so many text messages, sent and received. One hundred exactly. How long has he had this phone to have that many messages?

I opened the last text sent.

I’m going for a run. I’ll call you.

Now I was really curious. Who is he talking to while running? Probably his buddy, Justin.

I pressed another sent message.

How is everything on your end? I had to go under the radar after the November blow up.

My heartbeat sent electrical pulses through my body. It was that woman—his high school girlfriend. I couldn’t believe it.

The next sent text message cut me to the quick.

When u asked me if I was sorry that I didnt marry u I said no but the truth is that not one day has gone by that I havent wished we were married.

I dropped the phone and the world stopped. In slow motion, I felt pounding in my ears, the noise deafening. I began to shake uncontrollably. It was the same kind of shaking that happened to me when I found out my dad died.

Am I going into shock? I asked myself.

I saw the phone on the floor, its bright display looking back at me like an evil eye. I leaned down to pick it up and sent that message to my own phone. I don’t know why. A protective Spirit was in the room with me, urging me to do it, controlling my actions, for I was on auto pilot. I heard my own phone ring in the other bedroom as the message reached it.

I decided to check the received texts:

Good mornin bright eyes…what a beautiful day…only one thing missing…

I felt my heart stop and wondered if it would start up again. It did, and it hurt when it finally pounded furiously in my chest.

A message from him to her:

I m all yours. Call me when you can.

She said she loved the page they were on. He said he felt a need to discuss their history. Fifty-one messages sent and forty-nine received. I could not believe it.

The communiqué got more serious over time. She texted that her husband felt threatened by their contact. Well, he’s not the only one.

A pitiful text from him:

in case we don t get to talk tomorrow, merry christmas and iwbtoy.

I only thought about it for a split second. I Will Be Thinking Of You. So juvenile. This is like junior high school. Some messages ended in xxoo. Disgusting.

Then came the clincher. A message from him:

I can think of no better moment to say this than on Christmas morning. . . I Love You!

I cried out an agonizing gasp that caught in my throat as I read that. Christmas morning? Our kids were here. We had gone to the Stake President’s house for brunch. We visited with our friends from church who attended. We had a spiritual program and dinner with his sister and her husband.

What a hypocrite. His lies stacked up and today is the day his house of cards came falling down—to expose him for who he truly is.

Christmas morning to tell her he loved her? I felt my heart breaking, shattered like a fragile, China dish falling to the floor with a loud crash. Hearts really do break and hurt, I found out quickly.

Her next text read:

I’ll try to call later. Happy New Year babe.

Babe? Familiar. Intimate.

Patsy, let yourself get mad. Throw things. Punch things, I told myself. No, I screamed back. Instead, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I shivered, still in shock.

I sent about a dozen messages to my cell of the one hundred in the blue phone—which he said, in a text to her, was “sending out its vibes.” At that I almost did throw up. I felt physically ill.

So juvenile. So maddening.

She texted:

Like you, the roommate stuff  is getting to me. Keep asking myself why I stay.

Another text from her:

I might go visit my mom in Fla. in Jan. or Feb. just to get away.

Her husband is just as leery as I am, I thought. I felt bile climb up my esophagus and it was all I could do to keep it down as I thought of them texting about me and about her husband. I felt assaulted.

They must feel pretty good about themselves. My throat burned with a nasty taste. My hands still shook as I sent each relevant message to my phone. I didn’t bother sending the ones that just had x’s and o’s or love ya’s.

 “Under the radar.” Well, I guess he had to come up for air and charge his little blue phone. His radar is faulty.

Just then my cell phone actually rang with a phone call in the other room. I pocketed the blue phone in my flannel pants and ran into my bedroom to answer it. It was Dee, my friend, who is also the bishop’s wife. She’s like a big sister to me, and very wise. I always go to her for counsel.

“Oh, Dee, I have to see you. I have to see you now,” I pleaded, trying not to sound so desperate, but enough to send a message that I was.

I had emailed her the night before because I just had to talk to somebody about this new glitch in my life—the high school girlfriend who would not go away, who could not be suppressed. I told her I had to see her. I didn’t mention why. A good friend, she responded as soon as she read her email this morning.

She said, “Uh, can you give me about a half hour? I’m not even dressed.”

“Yes, but you’ll have to come get me. I don’t think I can drive,” I said as I noticed my hands still shaking. I wasn’t dressed either.

I knew Dee caught my tone. She didn’t ask me what was the matter, she just knew something was up.

Even though I really needed a shower, I dressed in a hurry, throwing on jeans and a sweatshirt. That bile taste could not be removed by brushing my teeth. The seething hormones rushed throughout my body and made me feel sick.

I waited by the front door for Dee to come.

Jerry was still out back tearing down the shed, oblivious that his life was about to turn upside down. Mine had already started. The normal PTSD escaped and surrounded my clouded head with dismal memories of my life with Jerry. Spinning. Dread. Swirling. Fear.

I’ve planned a divorce for years and years, always in the winter when his moods are the worst. This year, I now knew, would be no different, except it would be the final year. Will it really be the final year? Yes, Patsy. Face reality. This will be the year of my divorce.

I think of my mother and grandmother. They got through it, and so can I. I’m just mad enough to go through with it this time. I will go through with it. Divorce!

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