Yesterday, I had a mostly great day. It was long and punishing but I felt good. Everyone telling me my new hair is fabulous and I was wearing the Girl Child’s jeans and sweater and they both fit famously. I have been seeing a sweetheart of a man for 23 days now and got to steal kisses with him in the parking lot between jobs. I worked a long hard day, headed home and pulled in to check my mail. I looked at my brand new car as I got out of it to walk to the mail box and I was actually….proud… proud of myself.
I have quashed that emotion my entire life. It was taught in Sunday school that pride goeth before the fall and so I took it to heart lest I burn in hell for basking in my own glory. I also had the hubris squeezed from my little body by an unyielding mother and was forever behind her arm so my brother could pass first. We went to every football game he played but my regional track meets were just something that happened and scholarships and accomplishments were expected from me but lauded when my brother gained them. So I learned. Do what you’re supposed to do and you won’t draw attention, good or bad. I learned my whole life to not be proud of a fucking thing I did because that was presumptuous and just who the hell did I think I was?? I still fight the inclination today to not be proud; so last night, standing next to my mailbox, looking at my shiny car, wearing my teenager’s jeans and sweater with my fabulous hair…I felt pride and contentment. I was happy.
When I opened the mailbox I saw handwriting and without even reading it, I knew. Then I pulled out 5 envelopes, all from him, all thick and heavy. The pride. The happy. They slowly evaporated, lifting into the ice-cold night air as I stood there staring. I said out loud, “Awww shit.” I looked up to see if any neighbors were out and about at close to 11PM. Not a soul but me and a stray cat. I carried my burden back to the car got to the house and threw all of it on the table and took a hot shower.
I came out and stared at the pile of mail and thought, Do I open it? Do I care? What the fuck can he possibly say in all that? Maybe it’s drawings or something.
I separated all the mail and then proceeded to open it all. What I found were 71 front and back handwritten pages. Seventy…..One. I poured a glass of wine, put on some fuzzy socks and jammies and pulled out a kitchen chair and started to read. The first line was a double-barrel fully loaded guilt trip.
I’m not doing good, baby.
What followed was a listing of supplications for my attention, support, love and time. He apparently had corresponded with his parents who told him they saw me at his daughter’s wedding and that I looked great and he started in on that.Why did you lose weight baby? You didn't need to lose a pound for me to think you were gorgeous. I love you, I've always loved you. Please don’t tell me you’re with someone else. I can’t bear to think of that.
He followed with worries about all the kids and more about how he loved me and at page 10, I put it down. I pictured the moment that he realized it really was going to be over. Would he be mad or resigned? Would he quit trying? I know that in his mind all he has to do is get one tiny toe back in the door and he’s got it licked. There was a time after he was gone, that was probably true. I knew right that second that it was no longer. I had spent the day thinking about my future and what I could do to make mine and my kids’ lives better, whether I’d find or had found that someone to get old with or whether it really would be me by myself forever and either way, I had a sense of hope and optimism about it. Looking down at the letter on the table made me feel anxious and dirty and sad.
I didn’t finish it. When I got to work this morning I called the Department of Corrections and asked that he not be allowed to send me any more mail. The woman cheerfully told me she’d take care of it and that was that. When I hung up the phone, I felt good and awful at the same time. Relieved that I was never again going to open up my mailbox and find the sucker punch waiting to steal my happy but sad that I’d more than likely done the worst thing I could possibly do to another human being…erased his hope.
I know he doesn’t deserve me. I know he DOES deserve to be where he is but I just don’t have the desire to be the cause of anyone’s pain. My best friend asked me how I felt when I told her I’d made the call and I said, “I feel a bit like I've just pissed on a burning kitten.” I got to feeling just actually like I was going to cry because I knew how badly it was going to kill him when he found out. It makes me feel like a shitty human being on a fundamental level to hurt someone and guess what? You better fucking believe he knows it. So fuck him and his happy stealing. Fuck him and all his manipulative machinations.
I’m now shopping for seat covers for my new car…leopard or zebra???