The next chapter in my story from the Divorce Memoirs...
I was laying on my parent’s bed, the afternoon light filtering in through the windows behind me. After arriving home, I’d thrown off my backpack, and trudged up the stairs to their room. I’m not sure why. I had no reason to be in there, and yet, I wanted to be there. Needed to be there. Because something in me knew.
I lay on my back staring at the ceiling, legs crossed at the ankles, my hands draped lazily over my chest. How many nights had they laid side by side staring at this same ceiling? Talking about their day. Dreaming of their future. Flirting before intimacy. How many nights had they fallen asleep side by side, together?
I wonder how long those nights had been numbered.
Three weeks had tortuously crept by since learning that something was significantly wrong between my parents. I had gathered every ounce of courage to breathe the question of divorce, my world crumbling to my mother’s answer of Maybe.
Maybe they would get a divorce.
But maybe, just maybe, this would all be okay. Maybe I would wake up, and maybe this would disappear.
Yet, I knew.
Laying on my parents quilted bedspread, I knew. It did not come to me as a grand epiphany, rather a paced journey to understanding. It came slowly, starting at my finger tips, making it’s way up my arms, and down to my toes until it completely radiated from every part of my being . I knew. I knew it would not be okay. And somehow, I knew exactly why. There was no earthly reason for me to know, no one had told me. Nothing about it was obvious. It made absolutely no sense. Yet, it made perfect sense, and I had to shake my head of the fog that told me it had always been my reality. No, this is new. And it is true.
She entered the room, not surprised by my presence. The same absent stare, the same clothes as the day before. She was living life by going through the motions. Wake. Walk. Talk. Eat. Walk. Sleep. Perhaps, if she was consistent, if the routine became rote, life would make sense again. She hoped.
Words came from her mouth, asking me how school was today. I answered that it was fine. She looked at me briefly, even managing a smile. My legs still crossed at the ankle, my hands now clasped behind my head as I observed her.
Her body bent in half to pick up a few more items from the floor before bringing itself to the upright position. I hadn’t intended to ask, but as she turned to make her way out of the door, the words quietly began forming on my tongue. She was halfway out into the hallway when I found myself asking confirmation for that which I already knew.
He’s having an affair, isn’t he?
She stopped. Midway into the hallway, her form halted and became a statue. Perhaps she hadn’t heard me correctly and was trying to decide whether she should ask for clarification. Perhaps she heard me perfectly and was too stunned to do anything but freeze.
Slowly, almost comically, her body swiveled to face me. Her eyes still wide and blank, but her brow now furrowed, horrified. Her mouth set, slightly drawn down on both sides. She knew. She knew I knew. And I wonder how much of her was relieved to have someone else know, to not be alone in her nightmare. To have someone to hold on to as the world ceremoniously fell away in various pieces.
As if she could respond in no other way, she tilted her head up and back down. Once.
I don’t know how much time passed. Somewhere a clock was ticking. A second? A minute? A year? Our eyes never left each other. Begging not to know. Begging to wake up. Begging for a different answer.
Can I guess who it is?
She stared at me, her expression unchanging. Her silence, affirmation.
Is it Gail?
One. Slow. Nod.
And now we knew. Now, we were in this together. Partners in this hardship. A team. Never has being on a team ever felt this lonely.
Her lips parted slightly, her eyes squinting as though she were concentrating on a difficult riddle. We stared at each other a few seconds more before she asked, her voice barely audible, how I knew?
I just knew.
And with that, she turned and followed her original trajectory out of the room, into the hallway, down the stairs and away from me. I sat, my legs crossed at the ankles, my hands clasped behind my head, wishing for even a moment of blissful ignorance.
Because once you know, you can’t unknow.
You can’t forget.
And I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.
To catch up on previous Divorce Memoirs or to read other posts in the Divorce series, you can find other posts here. More of the series to come next week.
How has divorced touched your life? What is your story? Leave a comment and tell us about your journey.