I DON’T WANT TO COMPROMISE

You’re being a coward

only fearing your changed mind

so on every referendum you can hide

straight ticket, never alright…

where the hell did your spine go?

Did you cut it out?

Did it never grow?

Is it all made of fiction and all good intention with nothing to show?

Penny and Sparrow

Recent events, of which you will soon learn, have prevented me from drifting into a peaceful sleep at night while the rest of my family has boarded the train to slumberville. When the newly arrived residents of slumberville begin to sound like the rumbling locomotive that brought them there, and the snoring becomes unbearable. I would try, unsuccessfully to drown them out with meditation music on Spotify, praying I’d soon be lulled to sweet, dreamless sleep. It’s yet to happen, but relief did come in the form of Penny and Sparrow.

It had to be about 2 or 3 in the morning, I had to be up in a couple of hours to get the boys ready for school. Tossing, turning and resentful that everyone could sleep but me, the most hauntingly beautiful melody fell upon my ears. I was transported by the most comforting lullaby, with soft kisses and caresses lifting away the most debilitating pain I had ever felt in my life, and I’d been in a traumatic car accident; had a c-section. “Kin” is an obsession–no, a possession; a bittersweet awakening about the power, destruction and devastation that is love. I read the lyrics and bawled. The song “Kin” (The entire Wendigo album, actually) has become a vital part of my existence, like my morning coffee, evening bottle of prosecco or breathing. The soundtrack of my existence.

The backstory:

After rummaging through my husband’s pants pocket’s for what sometimes amounts to hundreds of dollars, I came across a collection of post it notes, which described a torrid affair hat he’d been carrying on for close to a year. I can’t say I was surprised. I’m angry, but can’t say I was surprised. What shocked me was not so much the affair, but according to the sordid details written in the notes, was when the hell he found time to do it!when he was not at work, or grocery shopping or running brief errands, he was home, with me and our children–and his dying mother. Oh! I should mention that at this point in our marriage we’d hit a rough patch: while his mom’s condition worsened, (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease) I was completing the grueling final semester of my masters in education, working full time and trying to be a good wife and exceptional mother to my twin boys.

I decided to change careers later in my life because I was miserable as a paralegal and there was no growth. I’d bring the misery and home to them and it wreaked havoc on our home. They didn’t deserve that. Also, I didn’t want them to be like me-falling into jobs as a matter of convenience or necessity. I wanted them to work towards a fulfilling future, something I should have thought harder about when I had the time to.

My husband bore the brunt of our financial obligations. I knew he was miserable at work as well, and his future there was uncertain. At least that’s what he told me. I couldn’t believe anything he told me. I knew that he was miserable. We both were. The stress was unbelievable.

The short of it, we didn’t have a “marriage”; there was no longer any intimacy between us; we hadn’t had time alone or “off” for the year his mother was ill and even after she died. Our relationship had been suffering for some time and I knew that grief would take a toll on him, and our relationship. After his mother died, he broke. I felt it. He turned against me. I thought he blamed me for her death. He did not speak to me, unless to blame, berate or accuse.

I knew there was someone else. I had no proof yet, but soon the letters, notes, anniversary cards began presenting themselves to me like demented little treasures. Torturing me as they came tumbling from books I had innocuously pulled off shelves, drawers, and even a pair of socks!

Here comes the coup de grace -when I confronted him about the first cluster of notes, which I should mention, were cleverly unsigned by both of them, he kept telling me it wasn’t what I thought-and my favorite; “It was never my intention to hurt you.” When he said that, it became my intention to grab a razor and start slicing. What other intention could there be? Did he think I’d be happy about it? That I would sanction deceit and betrayal? Didn’t I give him an opportunity to tell me the truth?

Naturally, he refused to tell me who, what, why, how or where. When he and I married, we swore we would be honest with one another. To think, I actually took pride in how honest we were as a couple. If for some reason we became miserable together, we had a responsibility to one another, and our children (if we ever had them) to be truthful. We promised never to be that couple who stays together for the “sake of the children.” Both of us were victims of the trauma caused by living that facade.

Yet, here we are. Me feeling like a fool, waiting for answers that still have yet to come. Perhaps they never will, which means, as much as I want it to, the marriage cannot last. I don’t trust him. Without trust, we share nothing but resentment and anger, which will poison our children.

And, the kids aren’t alright. He tries to make it “right”in his own cowardly way: buying me things, trying to put my mind at ease every time he left the house by taking the kids with him, yet, he refuses to talk about it. So, I stuffed my feelings, in fact I drowned them in bottles of various brands of prosecco.

What kind of man brings evidence of his trysts home? Were those his cruel intentions? Did he want me to find them so he wouldn’t have to do the dirty work? The letters saying all he couldn’t, or wouldn’t? My husband’ a coward. Selfish. He’s always been that way. I should have noticed it sooner, but I was a fool in love with the first man I didn’t meet at a club, or a bar or…you get the gist.

Sorry. I digress: back to my coup de grace: I was looking for a notebook. I’m studying to take an exam for my certification. I found one in the garage on a top shelf, and when I reached for it, another batch of post its fell out. This time they were signed. The woman was his co-worker. I know because when he first began working with her he’d come home and complain about how uptight, self-righteous and opinionated she was. He complained about her every day.

He didn’t realize how much he’d talked about her-I knew where she lived. I knew her tastes, so when I found receipts for errands he’d run in Westchester County when those same stores were minutes away from our home in the Bronx, I knew he was still seeing her. And sleeping in our bed at night. We were married except we shared no intimacy, my husband had not touched me in over a year; not so much as a kiss on the cheek. He did the grocery shopping, I’d cook, (on rare occasions he would too-I’ll give him that much) clean, referee the kids as we did before. We would even go out to breakfast or dinner as a “family.” We were living a facade; doing what we swore we wouldn’t do and because we were hurting our kids. I was angry; I needed closure. He gave me no answers and I had to know why. I hated feeling like a cuckold. I felt like a joke. That he was laughing at me because he got away with it. He was getting away with it. He had a mother for his children, and a girlfriend for his “other needs.” Living like this was not normal; but I had nowhere to go. So I lashed out, arguing in front of the kids. They were old enough to know mommy and daddy weren’t in love. I will never forget a car ride, when one of the boys tapped his father on the shoulder and asked, “daddy why’d you marry mommy if you always fight?” I’m still waiting for his answer. As much as I hated him, I still loved him. If that makes any sense. But then, none of what was happening now in my life did. I felt like a 44-year-old baby.

At this point, I should probably mention that I was briefly employed as a teacher. I lasted 2months –but it’s not what you think. It had nothing to do with classroom management or behavioral issues, the most common reasons teachers bail within their first year of teaching. Absurd micromanagement, a cult-like administration that believed it proper to barge into the classroom of an already insecure first year teacher and take over her lesson was the reason I had to leave. They disrupted my class at the most inopportune time.

When admin stepped in and took over my lesson and the attention of my kids, I lost confidence in my abilities. They constantly undermined me in front of my students. That, coupled with the fact that I’d been rejected, undermined and disrespected by my husband, did not bode well. Rule number one: as a teacher you must command your student’s respect, or you can’t teach. Period. So, as the administration continued to undermine me, my kids realized they didn’t have to respect me.

The administration confirmed my beliefs-that I wasn’t good enough. Here I was, defeated, destroyed, rejected-again. First by the man I loved and trusted, and now by the career that was supposed to give me stability and fulfillment.

I’ll never forget when she told me to “have a seat,” her face twisted in horror at my lesson. She swished and swayed up to the head of the class and regurgitated my entire lesson. The only thing she did differently was yell. I was humiliated. I began to pack up my supplies. She didn’t even notice.I couldn’t do it anymore. It would be best for all involved if I quit. And so, I left.

I gave up.

I’d never done anything like this before. I hated to leave the children, which will always be my biggest regret, but the voice/spirit/ speaking to me, (I don’t wanna compromise...)could not be ignored. GET OUT! It screamed. Besides, I’d rather leave on my (justified) terms than be fired under their (arbitrary) reasons. I had no more fight in me. I walked out of the school, feeling defeated and a coward, because I should not have gone out like that, but I think if I stayed in that classroom, with all those emotions bubbling under the surface, an explosion would follow and I’d leave that place in handcuffs, which would have caused those poor children more damage than me walking out on them.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t liberating. For the first time in my life, I did what I wanted to do, but as I stood there, rummaging around my purse, looking for my metro card, reality began dropping on my head like the rain drops that were coming down faster and harder. It turned out I’d forgotten my wallet at home and I had to Uber.

Damn. What had I done?

Stay tuned for Part II: The Kahlo Connection.

But first, share my power, my pleasure, my pain…

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