The Discard: Act I

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For clarity’s sake: this isn’t the story of two people who grew apart. This isn’t the story of someone who didn’t meet their end of the bargain. This isn’t the story of one bad, unforgivable decision. This is the story of systematic, calculated deception. You’ll follow along and forget you’re not watching a docu-series on the ID network. Hence the reason I have to break this into parts. This particular entry is the recollection of a single day, but it’s an  important one to frame. And keep in mind, a few people knew it was about to happen and not only didn’t tell me, but also didn’t/still haven’t checked on my well-being. Also keep in mind, absolutely no one has heard this true story from his lips, except me.
As you read, my advice is to imagine the single person you trust more than anyone in the world. The person who relentlessly promised to love, honor, and protect you. The person who worked tirelessly to put your past insecurities to rest and did so, successfully. Then imagine this is you, or your daughter or your mother or your best friend. Just imagine.
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Act I :
Crouching down in front me, he sternly stared into my already absolutely obliterated soul. His eyes? Black as coal. Fully dilated. The soft, crystal blue eyes that had initially stolen my heart, were gone. I couldn’t move. My brain could not process what was happening.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. So let me walk you back 18 hours.
On June 6th, he came home from the travel nursing shifts in Ft. Myers he had been doing since September of 2021. Typically 3 on, 4 off. Sometimes 6 on, 8 off. Though I missed him terribly, I respected and encouraged his decision to find work he enjoyed, and where he was appropriately compensated. It was very hard for me and us. He was pretty consistently excited to come home and spend time together, sending sweet texts and being affectionate throughout this season in our life. For those who have followed our story from the start, and for those who truly know me, or witnessed us on an ongoing basis, the love felt apparent. Without question, I would have taken a bullet for him. It had just never, ever once occurred to me that he would be the one holding the gun.
I greeted him outside, smiled at him, and hugged him. He then said “well, are you going to stand there, or help me.”
He was tired, and understandably so. This was the allowance that my brain had been making for about 2 months. Because after all: we are married. Things aren’t always sparkly. He had long proclaimed his love and devotion to us, and at some point, loving-induced trust must take precedence over anxiety, worry, or instinct. Relentlessly questioning a bad mood or off day felt both pointless and unfair to him. But, if you knew the version of him that I thought I knew, you’d know that such a tone and choice words simply didn’t make sense.
He was the gentleman.
Gentle man.
So while that struck me as somewhat cold, I didn’t say anything. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, that’s what people who love one another do.
We walk inside. His favorite sushi ordered. Along with his favorite beverage and a card. He opened it, kissed me, and said “well this just makes me feel like shit.” I could not possibly understand how a thoughtful greeting card could elicit those feelings. I was loving him as intentionally as possible. If my love meter were an average 85/100 for the duration of our marriage, by now, it was full steam 100/100 and had been for a few months. He then admitted that he blew up at people at work and embarrassed himself. That statement helped momentarily close the loop of confusion, though I worked hard to swallow the human insecurities and uneasy feelings I was experiencing. We ate dinner. Hugged, kissed, and snuggled up closely, like any other night, and went to sleep.
When I woke up, he wasn’t laying beside me. He was outside, chain-smoking. This was an old habit of his that he, without prompting of any kind, spontaneously quit about 3 months into dating, but a habit I had intuitively sensed he had picked back up over a year ago. 2 months prior to this morning, he confessed that he had been smoking the entire time I had suspected it. I didn’t love him any less as a smoker. That’s stupid and silly. Shamefully, I overlooked his ongoing, perpetual lying about it to me, and undoubtedly forgave him. [ this will be an important detail to remember in an entry to later follow ]
Okay, fast-forward back to June 7th. I said are you okay? What’s wrong? We walked inside and from that moment forward, memories became permanently imprinted into my mind. The post-traumatic stress I was diagnosed with a few months later, was born in the seconds that followed that instant. My mind continues to ruminate these moments on loop.
His demeanor and physical stature became cold, mean, and completely disconnected. He appeared triggered. Emotionally aggressive. And if you know him, you know that doesn’t add up either.
“It is all a lie, it doesn’t mean anything. None of it. It’s fake. It’s not real!”, he heartlessly shouted as he waved his hands at our wedding photos hanging on the walls. I remember looking at him in complete awe. It felt like a practical joke, and in many ways was. I hysterically questioned him, questioned the reality of the moment.
In a blank stare, he went on and on stating, “I don’t care about how you feel, I don’t care about your feelings, I can’t feel anything. I’ve often thought about never coming back. I don’t find value in you. I look at everything as a pros and cons list.”
He hated me. Or at least he wanted me to feel he hated me. And I felt it. But I couldn’t understand it. We had never once discussed divorce, separation or breaking up. And if you know me, you know I’m all about feelings and communicating. I want to talk about everything. What he was saying, was emotional homicide.
He began pacing. Shoving items in his truck. I sat stunned on the couch. He came over and sat next to me and said, “I’m sorry. I just need to decompress. I need a little space. I can’t go see your family this weekend. I’m sorry.” I said “that’s fine. But what is going on Chris? I know you. I know who you are. This doesn’t feel or sound like you.”
He rocked back and forth. Mumbled “I’m a good person under his breath”, to which I agreed. “It’s not you. It’s something in my head.” I rubbed his back and told him I was here for him. That I loved him. That I forgave him and told him he was strong. This was the tipping point to which he stood straight up, crouched down in front me, and sternly stared into my already absolutely obliterated soul. His eyes? Black as coal. Fully dilated. The soft, crystal blue eyes that had initially stolen my heart, were gone. I couldn’t move. My brain could not process what was happening.
I felt like I, in fact, didn’t really know him.
He kisses me and holds my face. Told me he loved me. Said he’d be back. This was confusing.
He packed some things and left. I sat frozen on the couch. He came back in to kiss me again. I continued to sit frozen. He walked out the front door. Then came back inside once more, kissed me, told me he loved me and would be back. This created a level of cognitive dissonance that royally screwed my mental function.
I didn’t know what was reality anymore. I remember trying to convince myself that he did love me and what I had just endured wasn’t abuse.
I sat there paralyzed for hours. It would not be for 9 full days that he’d come back. No answered communication and not knowing if he was alive. For the first time in 5.75 years, I didn’t hear from him as he stonewalled my attempts to communicate.
Oh, but what happened during those 9 days, the day he came back and the days, weeks, and months to follow?
Shit. It’s worse than what you just read and I didn’t even know that was possible.
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