I thank God for my dead babies. Now I do. Seemed cruel at the time, and I couldn’t see the point of going through all that, but now I’m thankful the last three babies didn’t make it.
I couldn’ta left him with more than one kid. It was hard enough to leave him with one, but if there were two, I’d still be there, I know I would. Still livin’ with a man that hates me, but won’t admit it.
I can’t tell you the day he started hatin’ me, anymore than I can tell you the day I stopped lovin’ him. Didn’t happen like that. Someone told me you can boil a live frog if you put it in lukewarm water and turn up the heat real slow. The frog don’t have the sense to jump out.
My heat got turned up real slow. Over years. Plus when you become a momma, you don’t just think for yourself anymore. The rules changed. It became okay to tell me to shut up. I’d never marry a man who would tell me to shut up, but I guess I’d stay married to one.
I should probably mention that he never actually hit me. That’s important. He didn’t want to be a man who hits his wife, plus he knew I’d leave if he did. So he never hit me, he just meant to scare me, is what he says now. He did a damn good job, somedays.
But a man’s voice can do a different kind of damage. So can his eyes. Funny thing about the eyes, they can say so much. I love you. I want to kill you. Or I won’t even look at you. For days on end. A whole lot can be said without ever speakin’.
His eyes reminded me of Clint Eastwood in the old westerns, cept’ there was nothing handsome about someone lookin’ at ya’ like they want to kill you. At first I would look in those eyes and wonder where my husband went. Could I reach him if I spoke in a sweet voice? Could I get past the anger and find my husband who loves me? Was he still in there behind those crazy eyes?
Eventually I learned not to reason with crazy. If he got to that point, if he crossed that line, there was nothin’ to do cept’ try and weather the storm. I’d agree with every bit of nonsense that came out of his mouth, or I stayed quiet. I became someone I didn’t recognize, passive and dishonest. But if I tried to talk sense, he’d take it as arguing and he’d stand on his toes with gestures of a streetfighter, asking me if I wanted to fight. All I ever wanted to do was not fight.
Later he might apologize, or still be mad, or forget about it, claiming whatever he said when he was mad didn’t really count. I never felt like it was resolved properly and came to expect it would happen again, just didn’t know when. Drinking didn’t seem to be much of a factor. He’d never over indulge, or go and bar drink or anything like that. There were spurts of days of drinking a tall beer, and spurts of days with no drinking at all.
Occasionally he would go on a marijuana holiday. I always loved that at first, since he’d become real nice. My shoulders would relax during those times and I could breathe easy knowing I wouldn’t see crazy eyes. Plus he would be sweetly reasonable. Once I even convinced him we should get a kitten, but the weed holiday ended and he remembered he hated cats and the cat had to go. The weed vacations were only great at first anyway, since eventually he’d turn slothy and grumpy. Then there was the time he accidently lit the garage on fire. I left something at home and we had to turn back and saw the smoke coming from under the door. He was quick to get the fire out right before the firemen arrived and right before the gas can in the garage ignited. It was a close call. The plastic gas can melted a bit, but all our belongings in the apartment above were safe.
The fights started coming closer and closer together, and in between the not looking at me or touching me got worse, and the days I felt like I loved him got further and further apart. I started thinking about leaving and he must of sensed it. It made him crazier.
His behavior those last few months is something I don’t like to talk about, it sure embarrasses me. I was damn near a boiled frog. I’m grateful now, thankful he couldn’t just be nice. Just like the dead babies that hurt so bad at the time that I now thank God for. I’m thankful he couldn’t be a decent human being when he needed to be.
I don’t need to rehearse the misdeeds to remember. I still see him on a daily basis, since we are sharing our son. He has tried to convince me he is a new man, but now I can see the turbulence under the calm surface.
Besides, he can act as nice and polite as anyone, but nothing in me wants to hug him, touch him, or go back to that iceberg bed. I can breathe now. I can think of other things. I no longer feel my heart racing. Not for fear or for love. He can look at me with longing or contempt. Doesn’t matter. The frog is dead, but I survived. I learned that the frog isn’t really me, just my marriage. I did have the sense to escape, but the frog got boiled and there ain’t no way to unboil a frog.