**Sometimes being brave means sharing past life moments I’ve hidden for years. This blog tells of one of those moments.**
There’s a small crack on the wall above the door frame. If I wasn’t staring numbly at the wall, I wouldn’t notice it. I briefly wonder if someone once slammed the door so hard it cracked the plaster, or if it was something more benign, a simple settling of the earth.
The crack moves out of focus as my eyes fill with tears. Refocuses as I blink them away.
Outside the door, I can hear his voice, rising and lowering as he talks. A chuckle here, a softening of his tone there. He is pacing in the hallway, unhurried and unconcerned with how I’m feeling inside the room.
I can’t make out the words, but I don’t need to. I am familiar with the tone. It is the sweet one that hooked me two years earlier. Now, that tone tells me, he isn’t checking in with a babysitter about his kids, he’s talking to a woman he’s been intimate with who happens to be watching his kids.
I’ve been that girl. I’ve watched his kids a lot. I almost feel sorry for her. I’m certain she doesn’t know he’s here with me.
Uncertain of what to do, I grab my empty glass from the bedside table and head for the liquor bottles, determined to get my money’s worth at our all-inclusive resort and to keep the pain at bay. I fill my glass with rum and top it off with a small splash of coke from the mini fridge.
As his laughter seeps through the wall, I slide open the door to the porch, grabbing the cheap wooden pipe we bought from a vendor on the beach. It has a rudimentary carving of a frog along the side. At least I think it’s a frog. He hadn’t sprung for one with a clear carving, saving his limited funds for a bag of cheap Mexican marijuana purchased in the backroom of a store selling colorful trinkets and souvenirs. His one financial contribution to our week away.
Setting the glass down on the table, I crawl into a chair, pulling my knees to my chest, trying to make myself as small as possible. I raise the pipe to my lips and flick the lighter, take a deep breath, inhale.
A couple resort workers walk by, laughing as they head to their cars. Their shift is ending as day turns to night. They don’t see me sitting in the corner, tucked into myself. Their laughter feels out of place, the wrong soundtrack for the moment.
As I take a swig of my drink, the first negative thought breaks through.
“He is talking to another girl while you pick up the tab for a first rate vacation! How stupid can you be?”
A drag of the pipe, another swig of my drink.
“My how the mighty have fallen. You thought you had it all together. Had all the answers to life. How’s that working out for you now?”
To stop the negative voices, I picture myself as a little girl. It’s a strategy I’ve used before. Little me is too young, innocent, and small to speak harshly to. Little me was good enough. Often I picture her standing beside me with a comforting hand on my shoulder, as if the power of her potential and innocence can stop my negativity.
This strategy often helps, but not tonight.
“You have gotten exactly what you deserve. Your husband divorced you. And now this man uses you. You don’t even put up a fight any more.”
Three swallows from the cup, but nothing stops the incessant ranting. As a little girl, I never imagined I would feel like this. I’m exhausted but restless. Numb but somehow antsy. Inside, I feel darker than night. My mind is as unshakably toxic as the man outside my door calling another woman “baby.” I am so tired of overhearing his flirty tone, and yet I feel strangely deserving of this treatment. An utter failure.
I rest my head on my knees, praying for relief, but finding none.
I move to the bathroom and turn on the shower to feel better, to drown out the sound of his voice. But it doesn’t work. His voice is gone but the negative thoughts are louder, like jackals moving in from every side, yanking me down onto the shower floor. There, months of pent up grief, fear, anxiety, and doubt pour from me. I cannot catch my breath.
Once again, I picture me as a little girl, sitting next to me on the shower floor, but rather than comfort me, she buries her face in her hands. I feel nothing and everything, a primal place I didn’t know existed.
Time passes. The water continues to fall. But there is nothing but black darkness left. No light. No hope. Just the pit of rock bottom and no way out.
Eventually the door opens. “What are you doing on the floor?” he asks sharply. The light cuts across my eyes, alarmingly bright as I raise a hand to shield my face.
I can’t find an appropriate response or the energy to give it. There’s no kindness, concern, or patience in his voice. I hear him snort as he turns and walks away, heading for the patio.
I turn off the water and reach for my towel, moving in slow motion, eventually making my way to the chair beside him.
“What is the matter with you?” he says “We are in a beautiful place and you’re crying on the shower floor.” He takes a drag from the pipe, exhaling a curl of smoke into the night air.
I have no response. There’s really nothing to say. He has never been overly concerned with my feelings and doesn’t plan to start now. Two days into a week-long vacation and things are already clear. He has moved on and has no intention of pretending otherwise. He is here for the paid vacation.
Is this all I deserve now? This relationship, and my divorce before that, have taken their toll, stripping away my self-worth one challenging moment at a time.
We sit in silence for a while. Occasionally he offers me the pipe. I accept it, hoping its contents will provide me with an escape, help me sleep.
Eventually I unfold from the chair. My muscles ache from head to toe. Deep inside, I know I deserve better, and certainly little me deserves more, but I don’t have the energy to fight for either of us tonight. Instead, I leave him out there, turn out the bedroom lights and crawl into my side of the bed. I grab my headphones, queue up a “happy” playlist and listen to one song after another, watching the shadows shift as the trees dance in the streetlight’s glow.
An hour later, he stumbles into bed, and begins snoring. Five more days of this vacation left. A penance, perhaps, for being unable to hold my marriage together and for choosing a broken companion to chase away the loneliness.
“If this trip is already like this, will there be nothing of me left after five more days?” I wonder. Does it even matter?”
I close my eyes. “Does it even matter?”
I roll onto my side and wipe the tears from my cheek. “Do I even matter?”
Then I imagine little me again, touching my shoulder. This time her voice gets through the negativity as I drift into an exhausted sleep. “I think we do.”