So the drama begins … or continues.

Animation. Frontal lobe (red) of left cerebral...

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Oh my. You know, there’s so much to catch up on the last few months that I literally do not know where to begin. Here’s the deal:

At the end of September, one month from our ninth wedding anniversary, I called it quits. It was not a decision I made lightly. You see, four years ago my then DH had a stroke. The stroke left him with frontal lobe damage. The frontal lobe controls emotion. The emotions he lost control of were rage, and anger, and general pissiness.  In addition, he lost the use of (most) of his right arm, had to stop driving (though we’ll get to that) and lost some mobility in his right leg.

Yes, he went to PT. And OT. He got to the point that he could move his arm from the shoulder.  He went from a wheelchair to a three-legged cane to a regular can to using nothing at all most of the time.  He saw different mental health professionals to deal with his emotional issues. Yes, they tried numerous medications in varying doses and combinations. The truth is, none of the doctors he saw or medications he took really helped. Some of it took the edge off.

So, four years ago I was left with an incredibly difficult decision.  You see, it’s not as if our marriage was all sunshine and puppies and puffy pink hearts before the stroke.  It really, really, wasn’t.  He worked away four or five days a week, and when he was home we fought.  A lot.  Over lots of things.  I was already trying to plan my out, because I was tired of living with the stress of it all.  In October, I found out I was pregnant with my youngest.  In November, he had a stroke and landed in the hospital for a month.  I did what I thought a good wife would do, and I stayed.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had to be the primary care giver for someone in your family.  I don’t know if you understand how difficult it can be to view your husband as a nurse would.  To make sure they take their medications, to cut their food, to shower and dress them.  To deal with the insane rages over simple things such as a fork being placed too far from their plate.  He was an angry, angry man.  To be honest, he had a RIGHT to be angry at what the stroke took away from him, but this rage was something different.  You know that little filter that sits comfortably between your brain and mouth and reminds you that you’re talking to a three year old and not to be too harsh?  That was gone.  The one that reminds you that your spouse can’t read your mind?  That one was gone, too.  Even the one that normally screams “Hey!  Calling your wife a whore at full volume in the middle of Target?  Poor decision, bud.”

I stayed.  I dealt with the anger.  I hoped he’d get better.  Did I try to tell him how I felt?  Abso-fucking-lutely.  Did it help?  Not in the least bit.  If I tried to talk to him about how “I” was feeling, or how scared the children were of his rages, I would set him off.  It was always “poor me, the put upon wife” and how I was a “martyr” for putting up with him.  It did me no good to talk to him, because it always ended the same way — with him screaming and red-faced, reminding me that he had a stroke, damn it!   He gained over 200 pounds in four years, and my every attempt to get him to eat better or exercise was met with a wall of hate and excuses.

The turning point came one day this past June.  I was at a new low of miserable.  He had become hooked on World of Warcraft and spent hours and hours every day on the computer, ignoring everything else around him. We had slept in separate bedroom for a year, there was no affection left between us, and in my mind we were just going through the motions for the kids.  His parents had come down for a two-week visit, and in a span of 24 hours he screamed out the window of our vehicle at a car next to us (their music was too loud), went off on me when I was driving and his parents and kids were in the vehicle, berated (loudly) our waiter in a restaurant for being too slow and not speaking english well enough, and terrified our oldest son because he said “excuse me” instead of “waiting for me to get out-of-the-way.”  The day was so stressful, in fact, that HIS FATHER pulled him outside to talk to him about his attitude.  We had a knock down, drag out fight a few days later that lasted for HOURS and solved nothing at all.  This was literally NOT the person I had married.

I took a step back and looked at my life and the life my kids were living.  We were in a house with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  No one ever knew what kind of mood he would be in or if he would be approachable.  The kids had a shell-shocked, terrified look on their face every time they did something that “might” be wrong.  My oldest was starting to act like my husband.  I realized that enough was enough.  I was DONE.

I told the husband that he needed to do something to make this better.  See a therapist (he had stopped going), try a new medication, go back to the nutritionist…DO SOMETHING TO SHOW ME THAT YOU WANT TO CHANGE.  He spent the next day calling psychiatrists, and then?  Didn’t call one of them back.  Not one.  Not until a month later I mentioned something, he got mad, and called ‘one’ back out of spite.  That didn’t show me that he wanted to change.  Just weeks before his mother came down for a visit, I told him I wanted a divorce.  I was done.

Now, he has a blog: http://www.angrydadrants.blogspot.com So that you don’t all think this is a one-sided story, I urge you to check it out.  I’m copying this directly from his blog:

“I had bouts of unbridled rage just because my kid spilled a drink or my wife didn’t want to go to the store when I did.  At first I would even justify these rages in my head.  “She knows I’ll go off, why does she push me?” or even “if that kid had been paying more attention he wouldn’t have spilled his milk”.  It took a while (unfortunately a long while) for me to realize that I had become ScaryDad.  When my kids even thought one of them had messed up they would all huddle on the couch, cover their ears and start apologizing.  I had become a monster.  While this was going on, the fights between my wife and I got progressively worse.”

It was decided between us that he would take the children and head to Maine to spend Christmas with his parents.  He was to find an apartment while he was up there, and when he returned in January (5 weeks later)  he would gather his things and move out.  I found a lawyer and had copies of the divorce papers in hand before he left with my children.  Though he wasn’t excited about the idea of getting divorced, he understood my point as much as possible and agreed that it was an unhealthy household to raise three kids in.  Then the drama started.

He played as if he didn’t know that he wasn’t welcome to come back with the kids.  He told me that if I was a “good” wife, or a “better” wife that I’d be helping him instead of leaving him.  He called me selfish.  He told me I was damaging the kids.  I’m a bad mother, a bad wife, a bad person.  My children will hate me some day.  I spent hours on the phone with him some nights listening to him flop between begging me to take him back and calling me every vile name in the book.  This, surprisingly, did not make me want to take him back.

I have the kids here at the house with me, now.  He’s 800 miles away in Maine.  We have had some fairly civil conversations the last few weeks.  We hashed out the details of the divorce papers, worked out a custody arrangement, and he actually got to the point of telling me that he understood why I had to move on.  Last night he flooded my email with letter after letter telling me how he couldn’t live without me, sending me copies of our wedding photos, insisting that I still love him.  His suggestion was that we stay separated and go though couples counseling to “find the love I know is still there.”  I don’t know in how many ways I can tell this man that it is over.  The stress is killing me.  I don’t know what else to do, but I’m profoundly grateful to be 14 hours away from the man.

By the by…the kids?  They are like different little children without him here.  The house is calm.  The kids are calm.  They don’t break down in anxiety for not knowing how to do something or for spilling milk or forgetting to brush their teeth.  Do they miss their dad?  Sure.  They call him every other day and chat with him on the webcam.  Do they miss the anger and stress that having their dad in the house produced?  I’d have to say no.  Nope.  My six-year-old tells me that I look happy.  My oldest actually smiles and his stuttering is decreasing.  I don’t feel the need to take Xanax every three hours any more.  It’s a win-win in this house…but still….

I don’t know what he’s going to do next.  I don’t know what his next move will be.  Who will call me?  Jekyll?  Hyde?  I have to wait and see.

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