“Where are you?” I asked, swallowing hard. I knew his answer before he replied.
“I’m home”, he said with slight hesitancy. He always hesitated a little before lying. Apparently, he wasn’t aware that he gave himself away like that.
“That’s odd. I’m parked right here in the driveway, and your car is nowhere in sight.” My heart raced, anxiety rising in my chest, as it always did when I caught him in a lie. After all this time, I still held out hope he’d be honest with me…just once.
“What are you doing home so early? I thought you were working!” His voice took on a tone of anger. The one I dreaded, yet which simultaneously provided me with validation. He was beginning to realize that I wasn’t the submissive, naïve doormat he’d grown accustomed to. I asked questions now. I was onto his games. I’d even stopped crying…at least in front of him. I didn’t respond.
“You’re up to something fishy! You can’t be trusted! What are you doing leaving work early?!” His rage was escalating, but at this point I knew the pattern. Instead of addressing his lie that he was home when he obviously wasn’t, he was trying to use fear and intimidation to get me to acquiesce, as I’d done hundreds of times before.
Although I knew I’d done nothing wrong, I felt the sting of shame and indignation. Shame because I’d purposefully not told him I was leaving work early for the opportunity to catch him red-handed. Shame because doing so made me somewhat like him. Indignation because the man with whom I’d shared a meal and secret moments last night (at his request) had lied to me yet again. When was I ever going to learn?
I knew the drill. Instead of giving him the opportunity to torture me with a stage performance of leaving me again, I went ahead and packed his suitcases for him and left them at the door. I wondered how long it would be this time. A few days, a couple of weeks? There was really no rhyme or reason to the abandonment and silent treatments. I’d given up trying to predict when he’d show up unannounced, forcing himself back into my life as if nothing had happened.
I lay down on my bed, wondering how to deal with the news that I’d have to have one of my ovaries removed. They needed to find out if the tumor was cancerous or benign. I’d left work early for a doctor’s appointment.
I buried my face in my pillow and allowed myself to feel the welling, agonizing grief once again. Loud, piercing cries had become a frequent pastime. Was this my life?
At the end of the day, I’d convinced myself I deserved his rage because I’d set him up. It was my fault…might as well live with the consequences of my actions.