the beginning of the end

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My decision to stay began the day that seemed like the end.  The beginning of the end, the end of the beginning, or something like that.

This is what happened.

November 12, 2011

Our 8 month separation has been pieced together with some sporadic 12-step work, weak therapy and our general half-ass attitude.  Sometimes I let him stay the night.  There's been some good sex and some really, really terrible sex.  Triggers eat away at me most days and my mind re-lives all the traumatic details of his undercover life.  Conversations weren't always peaceable.  Most ended with yelling, blaming, name calling and door slamming.  We didn't even live in the same house.

Desperately, I try and take care of myself and my children.  I listen to my sponsor.  Read.  Meditate.  Reach out to others and practice yoga.

One morning, Mr. Scabs offers to stay with our son while I go to yoga.

Riding my bike feels like freedom.   Cool air.  Hair.  My tires hit the wide sidewalk leading through the park.  Nodding to the homeless man on the park bench with his 2 dogs.

Freedom to let my mind wander...
"Being the dog of a homeless man would be the best dog life to live.  Running all over town, no fences and cuddling up with your owner each night.  Rummaging through trash and chasing cats..."

Swerving down the empty street I pull up to the yoga studio.  The door's locked.

Strutting with her free-bird confidence, Izzy, with her legs clad in tie-dye yoga pants and bouncy  short orangy-red curly hair, is waving wildly at me.  She teaches the 9am class.  Hollering, she announces that the studio is locked and she doesn't have a key.  Our class has been cancelled.

Back on my bike, I ride toward home.  Passing the thrift store, the bakery, the music store where my BFF works.  I pass through the park, by the man with 2 dogs, down Pepper St. then turn left up my road and into my driveway.  Chucking down the kickstand and balancing my bike, I turn the knob to the back door.  Everything is silent, like the house is keeping a secret.  My footsteps are mute and my breath is stolen.

Passing the office, I see the glow of his laptop.  He doesn't notice me.  My mute steps taking me within inches of his back.  Peering over his shoulder, I see everything.  The alluring photo of a dark-haired, half-dressed girl and a description of how she can satisfy anyone with cash.  I watch him scroll and click and scroll and click and then delete the history.

Watching from behind, I can smell his freshly washed hair and count the familiar moles on his neck.  I begin to think, "If I don't leave him now, this will be the rest of my life."

I'm not sure if he felt my body heat or if I began to breath again but he turned the chair and suddenly realized I was watching.

"What are you doing?"  I ask.

"nothing" he says.

nothing?
My teeth clench.  What the hell?

Denial spilling from his lips. Stuttering, stammering completely lost.  Ping-ponging between what he wants and what he does.  He knows he has lost.

Everything breaks from this moment forward.  We lock, head to head, into a full scale brawl. A hurricane of piss and vinegar, grasping for shreds of dignity and scraps of some kind of understanding of our desperate life.  Yelling, blaming, swearing and maybe one dramatic face slap later Mr. Scabs is expelled, out the door.  I am finished.

Livid, pained and finished.

Two weeks later, a pile of papers entitled "Dissolution of Marriage" comes in the mail.  Thumbing through the pile, it's our life, broken into child support, co-parenting, property separation and the rules of divorce.  Each paper feels thick and important, officially ushering the termination of our marriage.

I sit silent, in the same room where everything ended, preparing myself for that final conversation with Mr. Scabs,
and ill with the thought of the terrible, terrible conversations I must have with my children.

This is the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning.