Love Potion Number Nine (part 3)

The girls are anxious during dinner, asking the same questions they’ve asked a million times already.

Will daddy come home soon?

We’ll see.

Why don’t you love each other anymore?

No, that’s not it. It’s hard to explain.

Will you stop loving us, too?

No, never, I assure them, but it’s not enough to stop them from crying.

***

I’m so relieved when they’re both finally in asleep. I kiss their cheeks that still smell of tears and turn out the light. “I do love you,” I whisper to each of my dark haired daughters before turning out the light and softly closing the door.

In the kitchen, I pour myself some wine and decide to bring the bottle upstairs with me. I have a feeling I’ll need more than the usual glass to help me get through this night. Seeing Marty was upsetting enough, but now this package—a reminder from the past, stirring up the murk. An all too familiar anxiety settles around my edges. I sip more wine. This unease is what brought me to ask Marty for a divorce, and has completely upheaved my life and that of my family.

This all began five years ago. At first the anxiety showed up as anger. I was furious at myself, and didn’t know why. I hated my life, who I was. Nothing anyone did or said was right, especially Marty. I didn’t go out of my way to harp on him, but it happened anyway. It was all I could do not to treat the girls the same way, which was the last thing I wanted to do.

At Marty’s insistence, I tried counseling. That was a short-lived solution. There was no one I felt safe entrusting my secrets, conscious or unconscious, to. When the last counselor, a very slim short man with glasses and a nasal Brooklyn accent asked who I was denying my love to, I reached my limit. “This is so ridiculous,” I fumed. “I love lots of people. Do you want a list?”

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