Letters of Vulnerability During Exhaustion

It’s been very difficult to write lately. I heard that burnout would happen. I thought I had already hit it. But the past few weeks have been a level of fatigue I didn’t realize was possible. So, I’ve been trying to sleep, gain weight–my kind childhood friend flew me to California for some sunshine, saltwater crashing against cliffs, pistachio ice cream, late-night talks, tears every day –I’ve let myself turn in for a while, be alone, sit in quiet, sleep (A LOT of sleep), focus on digging into schoolwork and applying to jobs, counseling, and working on fighting my way through the fog in my mind–mostly about who I am, where I have been silenced, and reputations I either chose to protect or was exploited to protect–it’s still all confusing on my insides. But, I did listen–my mind needed a break, my timing needed to reflect compassion for my body and my trauma, and I continue to take a deep dive into breaking open relationships–taking a risk at being wrong, in hopes of the real me becoming reality.

When I started this blog, I hoped to be very authentic in the pain and trauma involved in this type of journey–because in the beginning, I couldn’t find a safe place to find comfort and validation of how horrific this process felt. We do have many “normal” days and many miracles, and I always remind myself that I would rather be free with healthy children than be back in an abusive marriage. All of these realities are real–but I hope to validate others’ stories of grief and trauma through sharing the terribly exhausting and painful experiences of this kind of journey.

I haven’t been able to write much, but I did go back through some writing and found a few pieces that don’t necessarily resonate with where my heart is at right now, but at one point, they were real. And I think they show the breadth of emotion that can come and go within a month, a week, a day–within a moment inside our hearts and minds. They are letters. Letters that were easier to write than a story, but the story is in the letters.

Sometimes I write letters because I think it would change something, anything in this unhinged world the kids and I now live in. If he could only hear our side of the story, then maybe things would change. We used to write letters to each other–the best ones were love letters, the others were necessary documents to communicate through anger. But we both seemed to understand each other better in writing. In the sounds and phrases on a page, I heard his voice most clearly and felt myself most authentically. If only he could read my letter now.

Love Letter

Dear Someone I Know-ish, Dear Someone I Thought I Knew, Dear Someone We All Loved, Dear Someone Who Doesn’t Know How to Love,

In that first week after you were gone, all I could feel was how much I loved you. I thought you were confused and scared. I emailed you multiple times a day asking you to remember how much we loved you, how much life we had experienced together, how much life we still had to live together as a family. I kept thinking back to the awe in your face when Philip was first born, how he was so small in your giant arms. And you held him constantly, and had him sleep on your chest; we both did.

There’s a picture I have where we were still students in college, and we splurged to get a bike seat so that Philip could sit behind you while you two explored the campus, two wheels holding you up creating gushes of wind on Philip’s chubby cheeks. We were so young but had dreams of creating a fulfilling life–starting with our love. Because we simply fell in love with each other. Neither of us had anything to offer the other–no money, no success, no home, no career, no future plans. It was just you and me coming together–in love–to be in the world together.

I never laughed like I laughed with you. I thought I was the one who made you laugh the most as well. I thought we were a special relationship–finding each other so young, hoping to get at least fifty years together like my grandparents. To grow up together, to grow differently together, to move through each stage of life with someone by your side who knew your childhood self, your twenty-year-old self, your thirty-year-old self. I was excited to see you turn gray; I knew you would become even more handsome to me, and I hoped you would mature into spiritual life. When I met you, you could talk about your life questions, your vulnerable questions, your pain. As the years went on, those conversations tapered off; we talked more about the kids, our plans for the future, trips we could take, movies we enjoyed, or political commentary. 

Three years before you left, I had finally become so overwhelmed that I asked you for a two-week separation. You were so distant. You couldn’t keep time, and you couldn’t keep time with us. You were put on Adderall a few months earlier and within those months you lost forty pounds and only slept a few hours a night. By the time I asked for space, your face and neck were gaunt, dark blue-grey circles under your eyes.

You could barely make eye contact in conversations. Looking back on some of the videos I found on your phone of that first week apart, you had already taken your wedding ring off–I had only asked for space in the context of figuring out how to work on our marriage, but I think you were done.

I didn’t understand you anymore, I didn’t understand our lives anymore. I felt overwhelmed and confused every day.

I had an adopted baby girl a little over a year old and felt like a single parent. Did you see my loneliness?

I tried to talk about it, but you would consistently say you were tired, and we could talk about it tomorrow. The tomorrows piled up, and the conversations never came. 

Once you went on the run, I found credit card statements. When she was a baby and you took your wedding ring off, you were already involved with Kimberly Rondeau in Las Vegas. My intuition knew it, but you denied it. I asked you directly, and you denied it. In fact, you eventually told me while, we were trying to repair our marriage, that the reason you got emotionally involved with another woman so quickly when I asked for space was because I had broken off our marriage–which was a lie…but I believed that asking for space did equate to you feeling like I didn’t want our marriage anymore. I believed you–that I had created an emotionally unsupportive vacuum when I asked for space. But three years later, I discovered the real truth–you were involved with her before I asked for space.

Do you know how many years I believed it was my fault that you turned to another woman? The guilt I carried endlessly about almost breaking up our family? I asked us to go to marriage counseling, and you agreed. I was still unaware that there was a third person in the middle of our marriage, so you came back home and slept with me, and slept next to me again in our bed, and held me as we fell asleep. Weeks later, I would go to the doctor alone to be poked with needles in the crease of my arm–the blood pulled from my veins to check for every STD out there. I have never felt more humiliated in my life–I was sitting in that room alone, unable to see what could possibly be inside my blood because of the events that would explode five weeks after we decided to try marriage counseling–because in between, you were back in my bed.

One night, those five weeks later, I woke up in the middle of the night to a voice saying to me, “Check his phone.” This was some sort of supernatural experience, and I was confused. The shame I felt over my whole body for even considering checking up on you almost caused me to vomit. But the nudge pushed me forward, told me I needed to check.

I picked up your phone to read words, short love letters, coming in at that very moment, “I love you, I miss you, when can we do a date again?” I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the woman in Vegas. That was the first time I realized there was another woman involved–and that I had reasons weeks earlier to ask for space, to say something was wrong even though I couldn’t verbalize why. My body knew that my soul was screaming the truth–but I was silencing my soul; it was too hard a truth to feel.

It was close to 2am, and I ran up to where you were sleeping, woke you up, and showed you the texts. Screaming and distraught I begged you to tell me what these texts were. You said I was out of control and that I was going to wake up the kids–we should talk about it when I was calmer in the morning. You were asking me to wait and talk about the nuclear bomb going off in my entire interior world–to wait to for a tourniquet an instead let myself bleed out.I couldn’t do it–I asked again, even louder, WHAT IS THIS–and you slowly got up, went to the walk-in closet and started putting on your clothes and shoes. You wouldn’t answer me, and I repeated my begging, “what is this?” I was weeping. Your only response to me was “Listen, my counselor knows about this relationship.” 

That word, relationship….was a surgical knife in my artery. I was ready to bleed out from the pain. I again felt my legs go out from under me and landed on the floor on my knees with my forehead limp on the carpet. You ended up leaving the house that night and no one knew where you were. Little did I know that you would do the same thing three years later. Just walk out and hide.

I had to call the police the next day per the advice of our counselor–to make sure you were safe. Eventually, you called your parents and let them know where you were–in a hotel in Dunwoody fifteen minutes from the house. Somehow, that is your space in this world. Where you went that night to disappear, and where I found the car you disappeared from three years later are within walking distance of each other.

After the texts, about two months later, we were back in counseling and I was hoping for a redemption story to our love affair. I never wanted to stop loving you. You could be the absolute greatest person in the world to be around; I felt so loved in so many moments. But then, I also felt so lonely for so many days, so many years…and I wasn’t supposed to feel that because you told me I was loved by you. Was I loved by you? Was Kim Rondeau in Vegas loved by you–or was it just easy sex? And the others, were those just flings, ladder climbing, control, and manipulation? What is love when it can come and go at any moment? Is love sealed with sex? Can we call it love….or something else? What word do you use for having multiple sexual partners and telling them you love them?

Did you know that you were an incredibly lovable person? Did you understand how deeply we cared for you? Did you know that you were always more than money to us? Did you believe the kids when they told you every night, “I love you Daddy!” ? Did you need to be loved by us–real love? Or did you just need us to need you. Questions that are simple yet unanswerable to me. The only answer is that the family of love you created wasn’t enough for you. It was enough for us at the time, but now it all fades to fog and memories of lives lived in another time and place. It’s a terribly sad story.

We are surrounded by friends and family who have loved us since we were born–who have known us before we became us. You are surrounded by…strangers, every day; no history…no future. No real love.

Epistolary Rage

I hate you! Of course I hate you! You lost control. You ruined everything, and why do you blame me? Can’t you see that you did this to yourself? Isn’t it obvious that you are a monster? A leech? A vampire to anyone who comes into contact with you? You suck the life out of them, then discard what is left. And every time you do it, it cracks the bones of your humanity and intensifies your madness. 

Look! Look at the blood running from your mouth in the mirror. Look and see how you murder your own mind and cannibalize the hearts of the people you say you love. You suffocate them with your love, your lying. You squeezed hard–hoping to hold us tightly to you–our hearts beat louder and faster and exploded inside us. Your power was fueled by feeding off of us, our bodies limp in your embrace–open, wide open lifeless eyes staring straight at you. Dead blue faces you swore you loved–loved to death.

When you walked into a room, did you wonder if everyone else knew if they could see the blood? Did you wear the suit jackets to cover up the sweat under your arms and down your back–afraid people would see you–would really see the real you? Did you talk in circles to make sure that no one ever heard the real words you were screaming? You were screaming and no one heard you. Did you want them to? Or did you want them to ignore the pounding noise that grew louder inside your dark blood. Your darting eyes kept everyone from looking at us dead in your arms. They didn’t seem to notice, and you didn’t want them to notice. But it made you mad too–you had done something terrible–why didn’t anyone see it?! Why are they blind to your murderous intent?! Are they actually ignoring you? Or maybe laughing at you? Were you worried they weren’t taking you seriously? What is wrong with them?!

Our dead souls still stared into your desperate eyes. You knew everyone would find out–would know what you had done–would see the corpse you are. Bang! Bang! Bang!  It’s happening. They’re coming for you and you decide to run. You took their money and buried the bodies–our bodies. You killed your family. You became what you fantasized about and everyone now everyone knows. So why are you still hiding? Why can’t you embrace the monster you are? Our dead souls haunt you every day whispering hatred in your ears.

3 thoughts on “Letters of Vulnerability During Exhaustion”

  1. You “cannibalize the hearts of the people you say you love.” Ugh. This is one of the best descriptions I’ve ever read. Cannibalism. Thank you so much for writing all of this and then putting it out here. I am praying that it helps you in every way. I know that it is helped me so much to read the hardest thoughts you have ever had to think. Thank you so much.

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