Life’s Low Blows

 I yell at my God, “Am I not strong enough?” 

A year ago, I held the world by successful dreams I’d once thought impossible. I’d opened the oyster and, thought for the first time ever, I finally plucked a pearl. I had made my dream publications. A piece I wrote had gotten picked up by every publication I’d admired. It was an article about how my husband and I went away for few days on a Tennessee vacation. It was the first, only, and last time I would write about sex. 

When you write, you never know what is weird and what is normal. You just throw yourself out on the ledge, naked, and hold onto a bit of hope people will understand you. They may relate to your life and to your story.

When the article published, I planned a last minute family beach vacation. I thought I’d earned it. The night we were scheduled to leave, I read the comments on my article.

(Writers have a rule: Never read the comments. Um… Misfit. I read them. I enjoy breaking these writing rules, it’s kind of a thing of mine.) 

I’ve learned to let the negativity roll off of my sensitive skin. These are people on the internet and everyone is entitled to their opinion. This time had a different stinging sentiment. These comments were personally attacking my husband. I sat in our bed, angry. My voice wanted to rage across internet wires and judge their lives. I signed up for this judgement. I placed myself on the public pedestal when I decided to publish my writing. Go ahead and judge me. Have at me. I am used to it. I can take the low-blows, judgments, and attacks. Do NOT send petty attacks about personal appearances towards the people I love.

Appearances aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I fall in love with souls. Physical appearances will change. I’m aging every morning.

But some of those comments on my article were right:

Check his phone.”
“Check his messages.”
“He’s cheating.” 

Although, at the time, I should’ve been getting ready to leave for a family vacation, I sat snickering at people who didn’t know me. Didn’t know I’d been with this man for 14 years. Didn’t know all we’d overcome together. They didn’t know how often we had sex. I seethed with anger when they commented about his personal appearance. Ready to go to battle. I chose the higher road. I didn’t sleep from anger, instead I packed our family’s suitcases and headed south for a vacation we couldn’t afford.

We spent four days in Myrtle Beach. My son squealed with delight at the massive waterpark our hotel offered. We tried to eat out, but had been spoiled by the cuisine in Charleston, South Carolina. Also, our son was 3 years-old, this is not the best dining age for a child. We enjoyed our time on the ocean. In the early dawn hours, I stood on the balcony of our hotel and watched the heat lighting flash over the ocean. I said goodbye to my saltwater haven and marveled at what would come.

I had grand strand dreams.

Upon the day we returned from the beach, another article of mine published. My words felt unstoppable. I had hoped to make something of myself with this writing thing. I never thought I was good; I still don’t value the talent people say I have. I just type. Tap, tap, words become sentences, thoughts bleed, and publish. Walk away until the next time. 

Within two weeks of returning home from our beach vacation, my world began crashing on top of me. I’d found the texts the strangers who had commented online said were there. The commenters online were right. He asked girls to meet up with him while I was at work. Said he missed them. I walked into the bathroom to him standing in front of his computer with his pants down, exposed. Our marriage finally fully exposed. It’s a sight I can’t unsee or forget, and I’ve tried with all my heart to forgive.

I wrote nothing about last July’s heartbreak. I fought the demons without my words. I went to the doctor and asked for something. Anything.

Please make me stop crying. Please make my anger go away. 

My husband’s salvation came to him in the form of a cream and white pills: Prozac. I spent days curled up in my bed, letting the drug mute my emotions. They were making me forget the jagged edges splitting my heart in half, cutting tiny scrapes on my soul. The neurons in my brain chemically realigning, sending shockwaves to rewire my thinking. They took away my ability to grasp what had happened. They took away my desire to publish, along with my ability to string sentences together and dance gracefully across a page.

I don’t know if the ability is still within me. I only know to keep writing. 

We kept trying to salvage and piece back together our marriage. I had to fight until last October for him to understand what he did was even wrong. I fought like hell. Wrong is wrong. It’s actually been said to me: Rachel, he didn’t meet up with them.

These words offer absolutely no condolences. Because I don’t know what he’s done.

In February, it happened again. I saw the texts. I saw the pattern reemerging. I sat blaming myself. I called my best friend sobbing. I took a hammer and smashed his cell phone. I questioned my worth. Why he’d never loved me. I questioned why I wasn’t good enough. I am a beautiful, talented, published, hardworking woman.

Therapist Lady calls it a break from reality. Disassociation. She explains this is how I survived childhood trauma. 

Facebook memories remind me how a year ago I had accomplished some of my greatest publishing dreams. I can’t look back on them and be proud. I can only know: those comments were right. No matter how hard I’ve worked, my words weren’t enough to keep him faithful. My body didn’t fit his exact needs. With my greatest career success came earth-shattering heartache.

I look towards heaven. I still pray. I still hold faith in what God has planned for me. I ask my God, “Please don’t place anymore hurt on this heart. I’m strong enough.”

I write.

I’ll tell you the story about how my greatest triumph turned into my saddest personal moments.

And I scream towards the heavens:

I’M STRONG ENOUGH. NO MORE!” 

Photo by Antonio Mora

 

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3 Comments on "Life’s Low Blows"

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Nina
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Thank you for sharing this piece. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to read your thoughts. You went through something utterly horrible.

Gail
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You may not feel it now, but you are strong. Know you are surrounded by love.

Lizzi
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Huge love to you xo

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