(TL:DR Yes Jennifer is a magical unicorn, but unicorn’s have a long horn and occasionally it gets inserted up my ass and I’d like to break the damn horn off and shove it up her ass.)
I’ve tried to write this post about six or seven times now, but it always comes out being too angry and too blaming of Jennifer, so I’ve trashed it every time I’ve tried to write it. Anyway, some important bits of information before I begin.
(1) My least favorite house related task is raking leaves.
(2) My least favorite meat is sausages. I believe I have eaten my quota of these growing up, I do not wish to eat any more of them.
(3) My least favorite vegetable is green peppers. I hate them. They taste bad and give me heartburn.
In August 2010 we fly to New Zealand because dad has crossed the threshold from “really unwell” fighting his cancer, to “the doctors finally let slip that he’s totally going to die”. So we winged our way to go see him before the end. Our last conversation together was how if he didn’t in fact die after all the travel and expense, that it would be socially awkward next time we saw each other.
About a month or two later mum Skypes us and turns the camera on dad for a bit. He looks at the screen and says “hello” with a tone of expectant but polite confusion. My father is a very bright man… and that’s all gone. I can’t react to that though. I don’t really know how.
The Friday before Thanksgiving in 2010, I’m at work and my cellphone rings. The incoming number being a long line of numbers scrolling across the screen leading off with the 0064 meaning a call from New Zealand. Thus I know dad is dead before I even answer it. It’s mum, dad had a really rapid decline at the end and it’s over and both sad and a relief.
My work day is planned to be over in about five hours, but I know I’m not going to be coming back at the start of next week, and then it’s Thanksgiving. I’m somewhat sole charge of my area and effectively just got handed a nine day vacation. I stay at work for about another seven hours tidying it all up and prepping for me being away. I can’t remember when I called Jennifer, but I do remember holding off on telling everyone around me and my boss until later in the day. Just didn’t want to deal with people trying to “support” me, when I just needed everyone to say out of my way so I could crunch out a whole bunch of work and then not come back for a week and a half.
Now because Jennifer and I are so much in step with each other, having a mild form of telepathy after then 16 years of marriage, when we miscommunicate it’s like a tire blowing out on a NASCAR Sprint Cup car at 200mph. It’s bad. Really really bad. The corner goes left and the car goes right. The wall comes up at you so fast and you hit it so hard. After that you’re just a passenger on a badly maintained rollercoaster.
At some point on the Friday, I told Jennifer that I would be okay by myself. What I meant was, on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I would be okay staying home by myself. We had the weekend together and then Thanksgiving was coming and after that was our wedding anniversary too. So plenty of family time and stuff around me. I would be okay. Not like dad’s passing was a surprise out of the blue, it was just here finally.
Unfortunately what Jennifer understood was that I’d like to be… by myself. So she very dutifully gave me a lot of personal space all weekend, including shepherding the girls to friends places and she had work events on the Sunday she kept as well. This I experienced as being totally abandoned by my family.
I can’t remember much of the Friday night, or the Saturday… but I do remember that by Sunday afternoon… raking fucking leaves all by myself… that I stopped feeling upset about dad and started feeling upset squarely at Jennifer. Plus I seriously hate raking leaves. Hate it , hate it, hate it… and as the sun went down, I raked leaves into the darkness.
I can’t imagine I was pleasant to look upon when Jennifer got home with the kids, because I think she scampered fairly quickly into the kitchen to cook dinner. She knows by this point I am really off balance and is simply trying to recover the situation. Immediately cooking something is a great idea. What’s not so great however is what she cooks…
I bite into one.
There’s actually little pieces of green pepper inside the mother fucking sausage.
I do remember being sorely tempted to simply bat the entire plate across the room, but resisted it in favor of coolly getting my car keys and driving to the nearest McDonalds. I purposely left my phone at home to punish Jennifer. I know she’s going to be freaking out and don’t want to let her off the hook. Anyway I eat and about a hour later I go home and we don’t even have an argument because that would require communication skills on my part.
I’m just mentally cycling through all the times I was there for her… pregnancies, miscarriages, bad mammograms, surgery, another bad mammogram, another biopsy, the death of her grandfather… and now it was finally my turn getting something nasty happening… and Jennifer was a no show. So decided in that moment to divorce her. If you cannot act like my family, you cannot be my family. I couldn’t actually tell her though, because after I decided that I completely, totally and utterly lost it. I met the wall at 200mph.
I remember feeling at the time completely disconnected from my body, just a passenger as my body convulsed in the most appalling crying I could ever imagine. It was more like throwing up than anything else I can describe it as. Just so far beyond anything I thought myself capable of. I don’t remember really anything else of that night. Just an emotional cartwheeling that never seemed to stop.
The Monday morning I’m still hazy on too. I think Jennifer went to work for like 30 minutes to do something vital and then was back home again in full panic mode. Meanwhile the first twinges of intellect started returning to me as I simply didn’t understand why Jennifer was acting as she was acting. It all simply didn’t make any sense. Why would she ignore me all weekend? That’s not like her at all. I’ve never seen Jennifer screw someone over… why would she do that to me of all people?
There were still more leaves to rake and haul to the curb. I forget how, but somehow in that process of trying to figure out why she avoided me, her coming back home from work and immediately helping… and looking like she had accidentally run over a box of kittens… somehow it all started to come out. She had been trying to do the right thing all weekend… it was just the wrong thing. By the time she figured that all out, it was too late as I’d already flipped out on her.
We made up and went out for lunch together. Later that evening Jennifer and the girls gave me/us all a big long group hug. That’s all I really wanted and needed.
I’d love to say everything was peachy right after that, but it wasn’t. This one really hurt. It really hurt both of us too. Jennifer put sausages and green peppers on the banned substances list, then forgot her own rule a month later and burst into tears cooking dinner with green peppers. It took a while to work through and stop smarting, plus dad’s passing was much harder on both of us than either one of us suspected it would be.
This time last year everything kind of bubbled up again. I was kinda mentally off as I was raking leaves but Jennifer was around, so didn’t really get bad bad. I tried writing about all this last year and basically devolved into framing Jennifer as a cunt, so tossed it. This year, I’ve raked up most of the leaves myself and haven’t felt that cycling down into darkness. Had a little sad moment writing about dad during the post, but that’s it. I haven’t had a random tear up about losing him for a long time now.
Anyway…I know I’m meant to have some kind of wondrous point to all this, so here goes. Jennifer and I have a really good marriage, but no one is perfect. Of all the people in the world, I think we can hurt each other the most. Almost always it’s been accidental though, one of us hurt, the other horrified at what happened. It’s also not like I’ve been brooding about this for two years, it’s only when I’ve tried to write about it that I get sucked back into the emotion of the moment. If there’s a bright side to all this, Jennifer and I have such a strong relationship, that it survived this colossal wreck of miscommunication.
Jennifer: And we’ve also been reminded that we cannot, in fact, always read each other’s minds, so it’s important to have that “Did you mean…” or “Did you really want…” conversation just to be sure.
Athol: You just figure out what the problem was and correct it. You slowly build the Relationship of Tomorrow.