You don’t feel bad, but you don’t feel good, either.
He tells you that you are fine. He tells you to stop worrying. He tells you everything is great, anyone would be happy with what you have, he tells you he is the one with the problems.
He tells you what a bitch you are for adding to his problems with your pointless, petty complaining.
He asks you where his dinner is.
He asks you why is the house such a mess, why don’t you have a job, why don’t you cook more often, why don’t you do his laundry, why don’t you suck his dick, why don’t you wipe his ass. (Those last two are figurative and sarcastic and happen inside your own head.)
He asks you why are you cleaning when you could be job hunting, why are you job hunting when you could be cleaning, why are you wasting your time organizing your things, why are you cooking so much food when you know you’ll never eat it all before it goes bad, why are you wasting your time doing laundry when there are so many other things to be done first and is that load all your clothes and what do you need clean clothes for when you never go anywhere.
He asks you if you seriously think he has time for sex when he has to be up at four in the morning. If you seriously think he has the energy when he worked ten hours today. If you seriously think he should still find your body interesting when you walk around naked half the time anyway—he sees it so much, it’s gotten boring.
When he does feel like it, “I’m getting tired” is code for “your five minutes of foreplay are up; I’m going to roll onto my back—put the condom on my dick and hop on for a minute and a half and then I’ll fall asleep”. You hope your vibrator has full batteries.
You get a job. You like it; you’re good at it.
He asks you why don’t you quit and find a different job where you could have more hours. He asks you why don’t you temp full-time in a factory like him.
You decide to go back to school. He asks are you sure it’s not a waste of time and wouldn’t you rather just work more.
He says you need to make more money so he can pay his student loans.
You tell your friends some of the asshole things he does but you say “my ex-boyfriend” or “my friend’s roommate” or “this guy I used to date”.
You don’t feel good.
You tell him you think you should go to couple’s counseling and he asks you where the hell you think the money for that is going to come from.
It starts out as I made a promise and I’m gonna keep that promise for as long as I can. It starts out as maybe he will change, maybe he will try.
He eats more than twice as much as you do. He complains about his gut, but more often he complains about how fat you are and tells you you need to eat less and exercise more. He starts complaining about how much and what kind of food you put in the cart at the grocery store. He starts complaining about the grocery budget. You start eating only one or two meals a day because you don’t want to have the fight.
You need new clothes, so you buy some. He asks you why you think you need anything other than jeans and T-shirts and says you can’t afford to care what you look like.
He certainly doesn’t. He has a nasty, scraggly full beard and walks around in old, stained, holey clothes that don’t fit.
You feel like shit.
You stop asking him to change the big things that are problems in your marriage because you know he never will. You stop asking him to go to counseling because you know it’ll never happen.
You tell him about your plan to move to the UK for grad school and ask him isn’t he excited, hasn’t he been wanting to get out of this shit hole of a country, and he says it seems extreme, he doesn’t think he wants to go.
You tell him he doesn’t have to come with you. Suddenly it’s all about how he doesn’t think you can make it happen.
So it turns into, well, I can’t afford to leave. And this is what you tell your friends, and this is what you tell yourself, even though you know people who have left with less money than you have.
Even though in your heart you know what it really is is that he can’t afford for you to go.
Your mother dies.
When you tell him, he says what does that mean, and then he says are we getting any money.
Then he goes around telling his family and friends about it, calling her roadkill, saying he is going to get money from this thing with your mom and he is going to use it to pay off his debts.
When you start to come out of your grief a little, some things are clearer than they were before.
She would never have put up with this from anyone.
You shouldn’t either.
As you wander around the apartment you start to notice certain things.
Like: most of the furniture is yours. Including the bed.
Like: most of the cookware is yours. Including all the dishes.
Like: he put you in charge of the finances and say you were to take the little bit of insurance money you’re getting from the estate and put it in a brand new account with just one name on it, say you did that and you started having your paycheck direct-deposited there, he would never know the difference.
And one day your father calls and you say it out loud.
You say, what if when the money comes I tell him we’re not using it to pay off his student loans because I’m using it to leave him.
You tell your friends when they visit. You tell your sister when she calls.
When you get a dog you put all that paperwork in your name.
You think about leaving him here in this shitty apartment with almost no furniture, leaving him to sleep alone on the floor. You think long and hard about it and you don’t know if it makes you want to cheer or cry.
You think, I made a promise.
You think, he made a promise too. You think, he promised to love me forever and he doesn’t even like me.
You think, I am too young and hot to feel this old and ugly.
You don’t know how you will tell him. You wish it was just a button you could push on a computer: Are you sure you want to end this marriage? Okay
You think what it boils down to is this.
The two of you are crabs in a bucket. You are trying to climb out. He is on the bottom pulling you back in.
You are going to leave him here to wallow since that is so obviously what he wants.
It hurts to think about leaving him down here where he can’t reach the edge by himself. It makes you feel guilty.
But feeling guilty makes you feel angry, too.
You can see sky from here. Over the rim of the bucket, you can see a slice of sky.
You’re not going to let him stop you from climbing.