The Discard: Act II

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It felt odd. Sitting there in between two conflicting realities. On one hand, my brain said “he said he will be back and he just needed to decompress, it will all be okay. You’re fine.” The other hand? “He lied. He just abandoned you like he did someone else 15 years ago.”
A detail I’ve kept to myself for years, out of love, trust, respect, and loyalty for him. And while my love for who I knew him to be will probably never go away, my respect and loyalty stopped the  moment it failed to be reciprocated in a very, very bare minimum effort way by July, and in the moment that he seemed to be repeating history he swore to me wasn’t his fault.
You may think, “wow, you must have known he was capable of all this then.”
And that is what I talk a lot about in my sessions with my psychiatrist and clinical psychologist: all relationships have red flags and people do make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. If we sat around waiting for the partner with a spotless track record, we would be waiting a long while. After all, I knew my own story. I knew how that might look. I need benefit of doubts. We all do.
In relationships, the only hope we can have is that when someone seemingly sincerely tells you who they are, what they regret, what they wish to change, how they will make amends in that, and they live that out over time, that you see true change. That the red flag was really just orange. Caution. That is exactly what I thought I had gambled on. A changed man. A man who said he wanted to be an adult and a good man. And for several years, I appeared right in that decision.
I was wrong.
Because no matter how you slice it, the details I’ll share over the next several entries do not speak of a changed person. They speak of a dude who played me and a dude very skilled in playing. They speak of a selfish master manipulator.
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Act II:
He walked out and I sat on the couch for hours. Didn’t move. It was truly a paralyzing mental state. Hours turned to days. And days into weeks. And that’s what I want to convey in this entry: days 1-14 of the abandonment, as they were the scariest moments my body has ever experienced, and according to my clinical team, are not much different than heroin withdrawal, cold turkey.
The first 2 days I remained somewhat hopeful but isolated. I didn’t tell anyone. I kept it optimistic, but in retrospect, I don’t think my brain could understand quite yet. I explained to our mothers that we couldn’t make my fathers bday party, that Chris was having a hard time. Nevermind the fact that his parents were driving from Mississippi to Indiana for the surprise party themselves.
However, the stonewalling and lack of communication elicited a really severe level of physiological withdrawal. I was constantly trembling. My insides shook. I was only able to sleep for an hour or so at a time, and would awaken from night terrors and jolts in my brain.
And then on day 3, an Experian alert hit my email. My husband opened a new bank account the day prior and took half our savings with him.
Panic ensued.
At this point, I was worried for his mental health. I worked my hardest to think of him, his feelings and what could be going on within him, knowing what I know about mental health, combined with our last conversation. My brother and sister in law (whom I owe my life to) came over with their newborn infant. They were confused by the events. But they, too, felt as if things were surely going to be fine. A few more days roll around and still nothing.
All I knew about his whereabouts were the carefully calculated bank transactions of our checking account. He was living as if he was doing absolutely nothing insane.
Symptoms progressed as I had to take several showers a day to reduce anxiety and bursts of panic attacks, and sleep deprivation turned into feelings of dissociation and psychosis. Vomiting and diarrhea. Hysterical cries into the night. I was afraid to fall asleep. My appetite plummeted. And I began exhibiting signs of psychogenic purpura.
I text my best friend and her husband (whom I also owe my life to) who rush over. I couldn’t tell them why, just that I needed them. They arrive, “what’s going on?”, they said.
I’ll never forget that moment of mustering up the words to two of our closest friends, “Chris abandoned me. He left. He won’t respond to me. And he’s opened up a new bank account.” They too, at a complete loss of words, sat in awe. “What do you mean?” she replied. It wasn’t something you could rightfully process. There were only tears. Within a few days, she made me a psychiatric appointment, rushed me there while she herself was 7 months pregnant, because I couldn’t drive, and for the first time in my life, I was now emotionally medicated.
His neglect felt so nonchalant, that I myself began wondering if I was over-reacting. And that’s how you know it’s abuse. The psychiatric practitioner was very validating in that regard. What was happening was indeed unhinged bullshit.
Dissociation is all I felt. Everywhere. Zombie-like. People made sure I ate. Brought food. Had it delivered. I’ve talked to my angel of a mother daily ever since. I wasn’t okay.
And then he casually returned as if he had just went to the grocery store. For about 15 minutes. Unapologetic and euphoric. He was on cloud 9. Slightly relieved to see him un-dead, I stared at him and collapsed into the couch. I asked him if there was someone else. “No. He deliberately replied. “I don’t want to be a husband anymore. I’ll begin separating our finances.”
As if this was a date that he changed his mind about.
And that’s when very, very small glimmers of the intelligent, non-pathetic Chanelle came out. “The hell you will. Im not sure who you think you are, but this is all fucked. And all of that aside, we have responsibilities, and you will see to them.” He left. Continued to spend the assets. Gamble. Party. And have no regard for me.
Another 5 or so days later, he came back once more. Except this time, he was maniacal. He laughed at me as I cried. Under the influence. Smirked when I tried to explain my emotional state. He seemed oddly delighted in the destruction that was me. Defensive upon the questioning of his mental health and stability, he stormed upstairs as I watched him shove his clothes in garbage bags from our home. It was another level of trauma.
Seeing him like that clued me in though. He was not telling the truth. The sad part? I ALMOST accepted the “I don’t want to be a husband” plea. Almost. I almost shrunk to nothing, and allowed him to defy every promise he had ever made.
I almost accepted the idea that he could quietly scoot away from this commitment as the man of honor and dignity that I married.
Underestimating me though? Never ends well. Though sometimes, ignorance is bliss. What I would uncover over the next few weeks and months robbed me of ANY bliss or gratitude I could hold onto of he and I.
Full stop.
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