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Uncomfortable Silences


Late last week, just before my birthday, I received another FB message from the (other) Most Dreadful Man On Earth.

He had something pressing to share, something important and urgent. This, after I’d flat-out ignored the last several unsolicited messages about movies he’d seen, names of  directors he’d been trying to remember, shows he’d watched and enjoyed, anything to prompt me to talk. He knows me well. This time though, he held my attention, if only for a brief moment. I take a death in the family quite seriously after all as we all should. My ex-father-in-law (ex-FIL) had passed away. Whether it was true or just a ploy to get my attention, I don’t know. The details seemed feasible, realistic even. I could easily research it, I suppose, but I’ve other too many other things happening in my life that I’d rather do than take a road trip down long-scrubbed memory lane with him. The ex-FIL, he seemed a good man to a lot of people, a good ol’ southern boy, but I’ve not fully believed — let alone wholly accepted — that idea about him.

There was this one time, when the ex and I were visiting the ex’s hometown, my first time there. Ex had picked me up from the airport, dropped me off at his family’s house, and went for a long ride on his motorcycle. Yes, he’d essentially left me behind with strangers, people I’d barely had time to talk to during my wedding (and people who weren’t necessarily the types who wanted to chit-chat much). Ex-FIL sat in his well-worn, crackly armchair, watching hours of baseball. Ex-MIL was working a shift at a nursing home, so, effectively, I had no one there to talk to. I spent that time in the guest bedroom, shut-in, reading a novel I’d hastily picked out for the trip. Couldn’t tell you what the novel was about, who wrote it, what the genre was. All I know, all I remember, is that it didn’t feel angled and heavy enough, like a hardback, to severely hurt me when the ex threw it at me later. The book was light. The pages had gone soft like it had been read many times, might’ve even fallen into the bathtub once. An old paperback. Probably one I’d picked from the used bookstore in my grandparents’ town. Loved that place. Crying shame it had to close.

I digress.

I could hear a door open and then slam shut from somewhere in the house. There was the  murmuring of low voices, masculine and abruptly cutting off, punctuating the other back-and-forth. The door creaked open again and a soft, feminine voice, complete with honey Southern drawl, piped in. His mom. I could hear pots and pans clanging. Objects being plunked down on a counter. The thump of something heavy against the floor. The conversation had grown much more animated, the tones still low, a little chuckle here and there.  A bit later, after the conversation had died down, the ex opened the bedroom door and peeked inside. I softly said hello, asked him if everything was okay, did he have a good ride. After all, I’d since learned to expect such impulsive acts of self-centeredness from him. Most importantly, I was learning not to appear angry even when I felt all hot and torn inside. The ex’s eyes then went flat as he slipped inside the room and shut the door behind him.

After that, I don’t remember much, not clearly anyway. Those sorts of memories are often soaked in mud. I do remember splintered fragments of conversation. Angry words, hushed voices, his voice hissing, my own — my words, apologizing over and over again. He was furious with me that I had holed up in the bedroom, that I’d not been in the living room, talking with my ex-FIL, acting the role of charming daughter-in-law. I kept on with the apologies, even when I was seething, so angry that he’d been the one who’d left me alone with a man I’d had no connection with at all.

(Incidentally, it hadn’t been true. I’d tried to talk to ex-FIL. Tried and failed to strike up a normal conversation with him. However, he didn’t like talking. He liked watching baseball, and I didn’t know a damned thing about baseball because I’ve never been interested in sports at all. That’s just how I was raised, which my ex thought was so abnormal, even unheard of.)

The act of apologizing was my way of submitting, my way of cowering and willing him to stop whatever he was thinking of doing. For some reason I can’t explain, I’d thought if I apologized for something that was clearly not my fault, it would temper him, if only for a little while.

I remember the book being thrown at me. I remember how it felt, striking my chest. It didn’t hurt at all, and in retrospect, I think the fact that it hadn’t hurt me made him all the angrier at me. I remember getting off the bed somewhere in the mix. I kept trying to get a word in about his leaving me there with a stranger. His voice went up a notch in tone, I remember that. I don’t remember his exact words, but there was a certain script he’d routinely follow that included at least one of the following sweet terms of endearment:





Stupid bitch

Stupid fat bitch

Fucking stupid





Worthless fat bitch

Worthless idiot

(After awhile, it’s all so easy to improvise, isn’t it? And so inventive! So original!)

I remember him shoving me hard against the wall so that my head smacked against it. That’s what hurt. I remember that.

Most importantly though, I remember the passivity beyond the wall. No one bothered to knock. No one bothered to ask.

No one bothered to stop what was happening.

I got used to it I suppose, but I shouldn’t have had to.

So to my ex, I say, I’m sorry for your loss. It’s sad — I know, I do — to lose family.

But truly, I’m even sorrier that you were so evidently raised the wrong way.



20 thoughts on “Uncomfortable Silences

  1. I am sorry the phone call brought up the painful past like that. And I’m sorry you had to go through it all to begin with… should’ve said that first. It does help to write it all out, though, doesn’t it? Hope everything else is going good. School semester? Your class?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a hard time writing out these experiences – something has to trigger it, some external reason and you definitely had one. It’s so strange to me that the first of my abusive “mates” is still (after 45 years!) in love with me and once in an odd while will write a poem about something that we shared, an object, a towel given us for a wedding present. I wonder sometimes if he wasn’t in the room with me when he broke my tooth or pushed me down the stairs or stomped on my crotch or threw a — yea — a book at me. So very strange. I’m sorry you experienced this and I’m sorry you had to deal with the guy at all again. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • And I’m sorry you’ve also been through that. They (pardon me for using the obvious antecedent-less pronoun intentionally) just tend to pop up when one is at her/his most content, I’ve found. Lately though, he’s timed it carefully so it comes when I least expect it. I tried blocking him on FB — he’s not a friend, so I figured it would be easy. Apparently, I’m either doing it incorrectly, or there’s something else I have to do. His messages don’t come in my standard inbox at least. They now pop up in a weird unread messages inbox (was it designed for spam? I’ve no idea).

      Anyway, I’ve found writing better than any formal “therapy” I’ve had. It’s difficult to remember details though, which may be a good thing, in hindsight. There are some roads we simply don’t wish to cross ever again.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so sorry to read about your abusive ex – and glad he’s an *ex*, as so many women seem to be unable to get out of abusive relationships.
    On the bright side, you seem to have emerged so much stronger despite (or maybe because of?) this, and it shows in your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • *hugs, my friend* I recognize that I’m fortunate in that I had a way out, and so many women don’t.

      As for getting stronger, whether due to or despite the situation, I have no idea. I think it’s certainly helped me recognize the signs, and it has prevented me from stepping too close to the fire again (won’t be making that mistake, ever).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hugs to you, darlin’. Sounds like you had a helluva narcissist to deal with. He didn’t even seem to know that leaving you there while he did whatever the hell he wanted was just not okay. They’re his family, but he dumps you off? Seriously? Sheesh–I would’ve probably holed up with a book, too. What the hell were you supposed to do?

    Still–new life, new you. Hugs and be good to yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the response AND the lovely virtual hug. I’d like to say what’s past is past, but when the past keeps crawling its way off the screen to you, it’s kind of hard to shake, you know? (Forgive the figurative bit there/imagery. I saw Rings yesterday, and I still get the shivers whenever I see that girl spider crawl her way out of the television).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Heyyyyyyy, you!! Have been off the blog for awhile due to work crises, but I intend to be back on when the load lessens a bit soon (I want to write something pop-culturey at some point when I can write with no lame ass distractions). Hope things are going well with you, too, sugah, cannibalistic-zombie diets and all ;-).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha aside from the actual (hilarious) gore, how disgusting was Santa Clarita diet? I made the mistake of watching the pilot while eating… I guess that’s where the title comes from :/
        I hope the work crises subside soon! Looking forward to your posts :-*

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know, right? A friend posted on FB, “Now that’s a lot of vomit,” and that pretty much summed it up for me. It now has its place with some of the greatest throw up scenes of all time, from Stand By Me to The Exorcist.

        Work. Sucks. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

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