On Wednesday, December 12th, at about 6:45pm, my wife called me and said in a desperate, breathless whisper, "Help me...please...help me..."
At first I thought her asshole boyfriend had hurt her and she needed to be brought to the hospital. But then, as she repeated the same words again, I knew her life wasn't being threatened - she was just very depressed and somewhat drunk.
Slowly, detail by detail, Gabbie told me her latest story: she and her asshole boyfriend Charlie got into a fight; he went on a 48-hour drinking binge and ignored her calls; she eventually tracked him down and found him "doing coke with some druggie slut;" he refused to leave the slut and come home.
In other words...the same old story.
Actually, I shouldn't say that. There's been very little drunken drama for the past two years. I'm just tired of the whole situation. I want it to go away.
Charlie is a menace and a very real danger. Gabbie needs to quit him but that's something she must genuinely want to do herself. I can't do it for her. So, until she's ready to get rid of him, I don't feel half as sorry for her as I do for myself...
How did my life end up like this?
Why is that asshole my problem?
Why do I even have to hear about him?
With those thoughts flowing through my head, I consoled Gabbie as much as I could. I assumed that's why she called in the first place. The problem was, unless she was suddenly ready to take action, I didn't want to listen to two hours of complaints about Charlie. Eventually I got tired of listening to her and said, "What are you going to do about this mess?"
"I want to come home."
For seven long years I've waged a silent war with Charlie for her heart. There have been many times - SO MANY TIMES - that I desperately wanted her to say something definitive and positive about me, and us. For whatever reason, the words "I want to come home" hit that magic spot. Suddenly, out of nowhere, visions of a happy, normal life with her flashed through my mind. And in that normal life, all of the hurtful things in my current life were gone. No Charlie. No separation. No gay thing. No disappointed children. And most powerfully of all: the possibility that she might want me back. That thought instantly brought tears to my eyes.
Sadly, my euphoria only lasted for a few seconds. I've been down this path before. More than once I've had big hopes that the long nightmare with Charlie was over, and each and every time I've been bitterly disappointed.
"What do you mean?" I asked her.
"I can't live with him anymore. I'm miserable. I'm so, so, so, so unhappy. I want to come home."
We talked about that for a few minutes, but it was hard for me to take her seriously because she was still drunk. I ended the conversation by telling her to get some rest and we'd talk more about her plans the next day. After we hung up I wondered if she was serious or if she'd dismiss the whole idea in the morning.
Then I started thinking about what *I* wanted.
I realized that I don't want to spend the next 25 years with her. I love her tremendously, stupidly even, but I've already spent 25 years supplanting who I am and what I'd like to do with my life, all in an effort to please her. After two years of being separated and four months of actually living apart, I've come to realize that, in a very sick and twisted way, Charlie has been my savior.
The next day Gabbie was her normal cheery, intelligent and sober self. Instead of a pathetic sobbing mess begging for help, she was a middle-aged professional woman telling me about her plans to move back in. Because Charlie is such a disaster, I told her I'd welcome her back. "And this time," I said, "if he causes ANY trouble at the house, even for a minute, I'm calling the police and filing a restraining order against him. My patience is gone, and honestly, I'd love for him to test me, because I'll do whatever I can to get his ass hauled off to jail for good." Gabbie told me she understood.
The plan was to move her things the following day, a Friday. Charlie was scheduled to work, which was perfect as far as Gabbie was concerned, because she planned to leave without telling him. I loved that idea. I had big hopes that the shock of coming home and finding her gone would send him into a violent rage and he'd come looking for her. Then I'd have my excuse to dial 9-1-1.
Because Gabbie was moving the next day, I needed to tell the kids what was happening. I didn't want them to be stunned when they came home from school to find the house crammed with their mother's stuff. Also, I was unsure how they'd react. Would they be indifferent? Happy? Disappointed? Mad? Just about any reaction was possible.
At dinner I shared the news with them in as upbeat a manner as I could: "Guess what?! Mom's moving back in tomorrow!"
My 15yo son responded first, "Does that mean she broke up with Charlie?"
"I'm not sure. You'll have to ask her yourself. I know she doesn't want to live with him anymore."
My 13yo daughter then jumped in, "This is temporary, right? She's not going to stay for long is she?"
"I don't know. My guess is she'll be here for a few months."
That news made my daughter burst into tears. "How could you let that wench move back in?!"
"First, she's not a wench. Don't call her that, she's your mother - and the only one you'll ever have. And second, I 'let' her move back because she's not happy living with Charlie."
"After what she's done to you?!! She can go die in a hole for all I care! I can't believe you're letting her back here!!" And with that, my daughter stomped off to her room and slammed the door behind her.
I said to my son, "It doesn't look like your sister is happy to have mom back."