Monday, Jan. 21, 2019 @ 11:02 pm
He storms at me and shoves his laptop in front of me, an article open on the screen.
"See this? This is what you do to me. This. And THIS. AND THIS!"
His aggression is terrifying. He is leaning over me and yelling and his arm is moving around in the air in unpredictable movements. I enter primal flight mode. I need to get away. I need this to stop. I grab my phone and scramble to crouch in the corner of the room and call my mother. I'm wild and my claws are unsheathed. He's looking at me with a panicked expression. I'm about to break the illusion, crack this thing wide open, expose it to the light. I know that he will not act this way in the witness of others.
The phone is ringing. I'm crying in heaving gasps and choking sobs.
My mother answers, and between shaky breaths, I speak incoherently. "I can't do this, I can't do this, I can't do this. I'm scared. I can't do this."
He stares at me with shock and horror and runs out of the room and up the stairs.
My mother talks me down. I feel heard and cared for.
"Go upstairs to your room," she says. "And text me when you are up there so that I know you are safe."
I gather my things and go to the foot of the stairs.
He's sitting on the top of the stairs. I realize that he's eavesdropped on the entire conversation. His body is silhouetted in light. He's hunched over. He is breathing in choppy heaves.
I climb the stairs and step over him and go into the bathroom. I close the door and sit on the floor, my head between my knees.
He is crying. I've never seen or heard him cry.
"I'm afraid that I've lost you. I'm scared." His voice is ragged and faint.
I rest for a while, unsure what to do. Hearing him cry softens something inside of me. Hearing him writhe in pain punches me in the gut. How is it possible that I still care?
I go out onto the dark landing. I sit on the floor.
"Is there something that I can do to help you?"
"Don't leave me. Don't leave me. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I said those things to you. I was hurt and sad and didn't know how to manage my feelings."
We sit for a while in the dark. I watch him cry. I listen to him say things in a way that I've never heard from him before. I listen to him and realize that he doesn't understand his own emotions and has never experienced intimacy, not even with his family.
I go into the den and pick up the fleece blanket. I put it over his body, and I kneel down and begin to rub his back.
I don't know the source of my empathy and compassion. I haven't been interested in touching him in months, years. I find myself caring. Deeply caring. I cannot watch him suffer and not help.
I tell him to go to bed. I make no promises. I tell him that I am seeing my counsellor on Tuesday. He asks if we can go together to see her on Thursday. I agree. Things need to be processed, untangled.
In the morning, he stands by the door as I'm leaving for work.
"I appreciate so many things about you. Your creativity, your uniqueness. The way that you carry yourself, the way that you see the world, your intelligence, you humour. Your determination. I don't want to lose you. I'm sorry for everything. I want to try to do better."
"Why did you abandon me out skiing the other night, on the dark road in the National Park?"
"I was scared because I knew that what you said about YOU growing but the relationship not growing was true. I knew it was true. I was scared that I was going to lose you. That I don't know how to grow with you, that I won't be able to grow with you. I was scared and was running away from my feelings. I'm sorry."
"Why did you tell me to leave, to get out when I shared that I was emotionally exhausted and scared and unsure what to do?"
"I told you to leave because I wanted to shock you into staying. I didn't think you'd actually go. I didn't mean it. I don't want you to leave. I'm sorry."
This goes on for a while. Each scenario is him channeling his fear and sadness into anger, and then throwing it back on me.
"Can you see why I no longer feel safe here?"
"Yes, yes, I can. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I need help."
I climb back up into the attic. I fall into my bed. I stare at the ceiling. I write out a brain dump of notes for my counselling session tomorrow. I turn out the lights and listen to music.
A train rumbles past, and the house shivers in time with the diesel engine. Hold strong, old house. Hold strong.