Most days, I can find the happiness tucked behind the prominent list of things that serve the sole purpose of bringing me down. Most days, my prayers for internal rest are at least partially answered. Most days, I can believe with the greater portion of my heart that tomorrow will be better.
But this isn’t most days.
Today, the muck of life seems to have suctioned onto my wading boots. It’s as if I try to fight it, I’ll wind up flat on my face, completely submerged. So I do nothing.
Well, not exactly “nothing.” The fuse of my resentment is burning fast. It turns out that stewing about what I can’t change is like blowing on a fire. Eventually, the pressure will release and I worry about what my world will look like after that happens.
He groans and rolls over, nearly falling off the couch.
I place the crinkled receipt between the pages and close my book. I walk over to the wall of windows and open all of the blinds.
He buries his face between the cushions and mumbles something unintelligible.
“Feeling under the weather?” As I smile, I’m disturbed by the fact I derive pleasure from his agony. But he brought it on himself. The justification seems brittle even as I attempt to defend myself with it.
He rises to what he might think is a sitting position, but he’s propped on one elbow at a forty-five degree angle. “Head hurts.”
“Could be the six vodka gimlets you drank last night.”
He frowns. “I only had a couple. They were strong.”
I open my book and check the receipt. “Nope. There were six.” I hold the receipt up. “I had to settle the tab after they kicked you out of the restaurant.”
“I don’t know why they would do that. I wasn’t even drunk.”
I raise my eyebrows. I find the denial maddening and struggle to keep my cool. “Ah, I guess sober people often stand on chairs and offer nonsensical monologues about the pleasing aesthetic attributes of TV weather women.”
“I did not.”
He rubs his forehead and falls back onto the couch.
I know it won’t be long now, so I retrieve the mop bucket from the closet and set it next to him. “And I’m sure everyone is talking about the spectacle you made of yourself.”
Another groan escapes and he rolls over and heaves his bad choices into the bucket.
I cringe and turn away. Twenty-four years ago, he would’ve offered a flimsy apology. I would’ve brought a cool wash cloth for his face. I would’ve patted his back and told him he’d feel better soon. He would’ve promised it wouldn’t happen again.
We both know better now. I know he won’t change and he knows I’ll be angry for a few days. A growing part of me wants to break the cycle and leave. A shrinking part of me clings to most days of the year when he is not a drunken fool. Fool. Is that what I am?
He moans again. “Can you help me, Nita?”
“First, you have to help yourself,” I whisper. Unbidden, tears steam down my cheeks. His physical misery blinds him to my emotional turmoil.
“Baby, I need you.” He presses his palms against his temples.
I can’t take it anymore. I leave the room, but my self-hatred follows me. I wonder if that’s what keeps me here. Indecision closes around me like an executioner’s noose. Maybe I stay as punishment for my own bad choices. The realization tastes bitter in my throat.
Inspiration: life. To fully explain the inspiration and the nuances of truth vs. fiction would take another post (or series of posts.) The frustration of repetition depicted in this story is quite real to me! My mother-in-law went back home on Saturday after twelve days of staying in our house and stirring up a fair amount of drama. I imagine things will settle down, but I’m not there yet.
I hope to write another post this week, if life will oblige and allow me the time. May we all experience joy and serenity in the coming days.