I’m not sure how I knew something was wrong. Woman’s intuition, I guess. We had a ritual, a routine. He would call me at work on his way to work, then I would call him when I left work on my way home. Because of our opposite schedules, we barely got to see each other, so this was our time to have our conversations. Not those big, deep conversations, but the daily ones. The married conversations.
That day, he didn’t call. Always the one to immediately jump to the worst case scenario, I called his cell phone. No answer. I called our house. No answer. My internal alarm started sounding. Something didn’t feel right. I mentioned it to my friend on the other side of the cube wall.
“I’m sure he’s just busy. Maybe he went in to work early. It’s fine,” She said.
“He always calls. Something is wrong.” She tried to reassure me, but the next three hours, I could not help but believe firmly, in my gut, that something was off. My imagination went everywhere, except to the scenario that was reality.
That, I did not see coming.
As soon as I got done with work, I called him. I sat in the parking lot, phone ringing, ringing, ringing, voicemail. I tried the house again and still got no answer. I finally called his store, praying and shaking as the line connected. “Thank you for calling Office Max, how may I direct your call?”
“Um, hi. Is um, is Clint in today?” I wondered if the person on the other end could hear the sound of my heart raging in my chest.
“Clint? Yeah!” the voice on the other end was a little overly enthusiastic. I breathed a sigh of relief. The “freak accident/hospitalized/amnesia/death” scenario could be crossed off the list. “One sec.” I was put on hold.
A few minutes later, a familiar voice answered. “Hello, this is Clint.”
“Hey babe, I was just calling because, well, you didn’t call me on your way to work today and you’re not answering my calls and I’m worried about you. Glad you’re okay. Do you have a minute to talk, or is it busy?”
“You are the last person in the world I want to speak to right now.” The line went dead. He hung up on me. Why did my husband just hang up on me?
I started the car, in complete disbelief at what just happened. I pulled out of the parking lot and instead of taking a left to head home, I turned right and headed toward his store, just 5 minutes away. In the short drive, I racked my brain to think of anything I had done that would have him so angry with me that he didn’t want to talk to me. Nothing came to mind.
I parked the car and walked nervously into the store. One of his coworkers recognize me and greeted me enthusiastically. “Oh hi, Eunice! How are you?!” Whatever he was mad about, he hadn’t told anyone else. I waved and went searching for my husband. I found him in the employee break room, a place I technically wasn’t supposed to be, but he was the manager, so I knew I could get away with it.
He was not happy to see me.
“What are you doing here?” He growled.
“I came to see what’s wrong. I don’t understand what’s going on.”
“I’m not doing this here. You need to leave. And by the way, I’m not coming home tonight.” I looked at him and tried to swallow the lump that had taken over my entire throat.
I fought back tears. “I don’t understand—”
“Just leave,” he cut me off. The glare he gave me was so icy, it could have sliced me in two.
I walked out to the parking lot and peered into his truck. His suitcase was sitting on the seat. I climbed into my car and called his parents, hoping they might know what was going on.
They answered cheerfully, so I knew that he hadn’t said anything to them yet, which left me even more bewildered. Whatever was happening was big enough that he wanted to leave, but he hadn’t yet told his parents, who were his closest confidantes. We chatted casually as I drove home. I didn’t let on that anything was wrong.
When I unlocked the door to our apartment, I dropped the phone and my keys. The framed Pulp Fiction poster we had opposite the entryway was shattered and torn. I quickly scooped the phone up and told his parents that I would call them back. As I stepped into the apartment, chaos and destruction were everywhere. Our wedding picture was broken and laying on the floor. All of his prized collectible movie posters were destroyed. Things were so disheveled, it looked like we’d been robbed. He was clearly really angry and I still had no idea why.
I walked into the bedroom. Unlike every other room in the house, our bedroom was intact, but something still felt off. I opened the closet. I opened the dresser drawers. I opened the drawer in his nightstand. I opened the cabinet in his nightstand. His gun was gone.
I started to panic. My husband had been raging, taken his gun and would not speak to me. Why?
I walked around to my side of the bed and tugged open the drawer to my nightstand, and there it was. My journal. He’d read it. I had never cursed my photographic memory until that day, when I noticed that my journal was in my drawer, right on top, unlike how I’d last left it.
I immediately grabbed it and started flipping through the pages, reading every entry from the beginning. I had started this journal just two months after we began our lives as husband and wife, the same time I am certain was when the first signs of my clinical depression appeared. There were 9 months of entries. I started reading.
I didn’t make it past the first page before I knew why he was upset. I wasn’t happy. I hated that we had opposite schedules. We had moved to a new state with no family or no friends the year before we got married and I was lonely. As an extrovert, it was a challenge for me. As an introvert, he was in heaven.
I kept reading, and things only got worse.
My sex drive had been completely sapped and I didn’t care. I didn’t care so much that every effort he made bugged the shit out of me. He was really insecure, and I wrote about how I faked every day of my life those first few months to keep him from freaking out. He had uncovered my secret. I had questioned his ability to love me unconditionally in private and now he knew.
Every feeling that I felt, but was afraid to say out loud, was now out there.
- My resentment of his perfect credit.
- My lack of feeling gratitude to his parents for many gifts they gave me, including a truck (I was so resentful that I refused to drive it and it became his truck).
- My frustration with the unsupportive comments he made toward me guised as jokes.
- My crippling loneliness and why I blamed him for it.
- My crushing fear of getting pregnant.
- My new friendship with a male coworker (who worked out-of-state).
- My sex dreams about Eddie Vedder & Matt Dillon and how those were more satisfying than having to have sex with my husband.
- My hesitation to be honest with him about how I was really feeling.
- My irritation over how fucking awful our wedding day was.
- My embarrassment over the ugly ass hat he insisted on wearing our entire honeymoon (I wonder if he still has it—it’s totally hipster now).
- My sadness over realizing that he was going to be the only man I could ever love again.
- My melt down over September 11 and my anger toward him for not understanding why I was freaking out.
- My acknowledging that I had married down in the looks department. (Okay, so my exact words were, “he’s certainly not the hottie I wish him to be. Ouch.)
- My refusal to believe that I could be suffering from depression, but also, that I really knew my doctor was right.
- My disappointment in his inability to cater to my hopelessly romantic dreams (Or even my modestly romantic dreams, like being driven to the bus when it was raining).
It was all there, plain as day, every negative thought I had ever had about my husband, catalogued like a scorecard and paired with the harshest criticism of him to go with it. He was never meant to see any of this, but now he knew my truest feelings about our marriage.
I felt awful. I called his cell phone and left another message begging him to come home that night so we could talk.
I started cleaning things up and putting our home in order as best I could. As I was fixing things, I started to get really angry. I still had no idea why he read my journal in the first place. I felt incredibly violated. There was no topic that was mentioned in my journal that we hadn’t talked about, but he had gotten the filtered version of my feelings, not the raw, unedited emotion.
As a writer, I would have thought that he, of all people, would understand how much writing helps you process your feelings. That yes, the words on the pages of my journal were the truest reflection of how I felt about things, but I also hadn’t taken the time to work through those emotions and organize them into something meaningful and actionable.
We hadn’t yet been married a year. I had no idea how to talk to my extremely insecure husband about any of the negative feelings I had. He also couldn’t wrap his head around the idea that I might be suffering from depression. His reaction to that notion is a large part of the reason that I resisted entertaining the possibility for ten years. I did not see how we were going to make it through this.
He did end up coming home that night, and we had a long, tear-filled conversation. It was so emotionally draining that I ended up calling in sick for work the next day.
When I asked what prompted him to read my journal, he said that he’d gotten a weird feeling. That feeling was prompted by my trying to understand why people cheat. A friend of mine was dealing with a boyfriend who could not stop cheating and I would talk to my husband about it on the rare nights that we had together. He said that I spent so much time obsessing over the topic of cheating that he thought that I might be having an affair and he wanted proof before confronting me.
He got a whole lot more than he bargained for.
I know that day was the end of my marriage. We never really recovered trust in one another after that. I stopped journaling because I couldn’t trust that he wouldn’t read it. I also stopped talking to him about how I was feeling because I couldn’t trust that he would try to understand and be supportive. He never stopped worrying that I was cheating on him (which is ironic that our marriage finally ended when he started having an affair with a friend of ours). It took another three years before the divorce was final, but we both knew our marriage ended the moment he opened that journal.
Please check out these amazing writers and their posts on this month’s theme: Trust
Trust is Hard to Come By by Mia Sutton
My Superhero in the Sky by Sarah Hartley
Pattern Making in Parenting by Laci Hoyt
In How We Trust by Liz Russell
Challenging the Relationship between Trust and Fear by Christi Hurelle